SAN Miguel Beer rode on its ever-reliable frontcourt duo as it rolled to a 101-90 victory over hapless Star on Saturday to regain a piece of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup lead at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beermen pulled away from a nip-and-tuck affair in the second half where June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos conspired to lead the defending champions to a third straight win and sixth overall in seven games, tying Alaska at the top of the standings.
Fajardo once again asserted his might down low, tallying 27 points and 16 boards, while Santos, coming off a game where he scored the winning putback, provided support from the perimeter to finish with 22 points built around four three-pointers.
“We’ve been successful with that tandem,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said of the Fajardo-Santos duo. “They complement each other.”
“But it’s not only the offensive prowess of our big men, but our defense as well,” he added after seeing his team force the Hotshots to 19 turnovers on the way to a fourth straight loss and sixth overall against two wins.
James Yap fired a team-high 22 points for Star, but was scoreless in the payoff period.
The sister teams engaged each other in close battle in the first half, before the Beermen flashed their A-game, refusing to give the Hotshots an inch, especially in the fourth where Fajardo and Santos combined for 17 points.
The Hotshots’ consolation was Mark Cruz, who made the most of his debut by putting up seven points, two boards, and one assist in 11 minutes.
SMB 101 – Fajardo 27, Santos 22, Cabagnot 11, Lassiter 10, Lutz 9, Ross 9, Espinas 8, Tubid 3, Arana 2, de Ocampo Y 0, Heruela 0, Mabulac 0, Omolon 0, Reyes 0
STAR 90 – Yap 22, Barroca 15, Simon 10, Taha 10, Cruz Mark 7, Pingris 7, Pascual J 6, Mallari 5, Sangalang 4, Maliksi 2, Torres 2, Gaco 0, Melton 0, Pascual 0
Quarterscores: 19-19, 43-41, 71-65, 101-90