SAN Miguel Beer weathered a furious fourth-quarter rally by an undermanned Rain or Shine side to hack out an 87-79 victory on Leo Austria's coaching debut in the PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Colisuem.
The Beermen led by as many as 12 points and had a lot left in the tank to respond to a late Rain or Shine rally that saw it come within two points, 77-79, after a Jeff Chan three-pointer with two minutes left.
That proved to be the last gasp for Rain or Shine as San Miguel closed out the game with an 8-2 run, capped by reigning league MVP June Mar Fajardo’s two foul shots to seal the deal.
“First game ko ito with San Miguel, and we won. I think this will be a big motivation for me and the team because we beat a contender,” said Austria, the team’s fifth head coach in three seasons.
Rain or Shine missed the services of Chris Tiu (hamstring) and defense specialist Gabe Norwood who is only due to arrive late Tuesday night after taking a two-week break following his stint with Gilas Pilipinas.
The biggest blow for the Painters, however, came when Paul Lee hyperextended his right knee early in the second period, after landing awkwardly against San Miguel guard Chris Ross’ defense.
Aside from Lee's injury, the Elasto Painters were also hurt by their abysmal 16-of-31 clip from the free-throw line.
It didn’t help that Chan, the team’s resident outside gunner, shot just 3-of-10 from the field overall, though he still finished with 11 points.
Fajardo and Santos each scored 16 points to lead San Miguel while Marcio Lassiter added 13.
SAN MIGUEL BEER 87 - Fajardo 16, Santos 16, Lassiter 13, Lutz 11, Hubalde 7, Kramer 7, Tubid 6, Mercado 4, Ross 3, Omolon 2, Chua 2, Maierhofer 0, Pascual 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 79 - Almazan 12, Chan 11, Cruz Jervy 11, Uyloan 9, Arana 9, Quinahan 7, Belga 6, Ibanes 4, Lee 3, Cruz Jericho 3, Tang 3, Teng 1.
Quarterscores: 28-18, 49-37, 66-58, 87-79