ANTIPOLO – San Miguel Beer survived another scare from an eliminated team, this time by Phoenix, hacking out a 109-107 victory to solidify chances of finishing in the Top Four of the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.
Coming off a slim six-point win over winless Kia, the Beermen saw themselves facing another tough challenge, climbing out of an early 13-point hole against the Fuel Masters before just proving steadier down the stretch to escape with the victory.
Terrence Watson scored back-to-back baskets to put the Beermen up for good, before June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot iced the game from the charity stripe as they jacked up their win-loss record to 7-3 to gain a share of third spot with NLEX and TNT.
The Beermen also added to the misery of the Fuel Masters, who finished their campaign reeling to a ninth successive setback after starting the conference with two wins.
“I realized that when you’re on top and you’re the team to beat, it’s really hard to win, especially when you’re against a team at the bottom,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “I have to congratulate coach Ariel Vanguardia na in spite of no-bearing game, nandoon pa rin yung pride nila.”
After all, the Fuel Masters built an early double-digit lead and keeping it a nip-and-tuck battle all throughout, tying the game one last time at 100 after two free throws from import Brandon Brown.
Watson, however, retaliated with two straight close-range buckets to give the Beermen a two-possession lead, before Fajardo hit two charities to pad to the lead and appeared to seal the deal.
Watson finished with 26 points, 11 boards, five assists, three steals, and three blocks that made up for his eight turnovers in 41 minutes, while Fajardo anchored the middle and added 24 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, and four assists in 37 minutes.
Cabagnot was the other SMB player who scored over 20 points with 24 markers, also finishing with a double-double with 13 boards on top of six assists, while Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos combined for five triples and wound up in double-figure scoring as well.
Brandon Brown led the Fuel Masters with 30 points, 17 caroms, four assists, four steals, and three blocks in almost 39 minutes that went for naught as he failed to lead his team to a win in seven games as the import.
SMB 109 – Watson 26, Fajardo 24, Cabagnot 24, Santos 15, Lassiter 13, Rosser 4, Espinas 3, Ross 0, Tubid 0
PHOENIX 107 – Brown 30, Chan 18, Intal 12, Eriobu 10, Alolino 9, W.WIlson 8, Dehesa 7, Wright 5, Lanete 4, Kramer 2, Jazul 2, J. Wilson 0, Hayes 0, Miranda 0, Ababou 0
Quarterscores: 23-28, 56-52, 86-77, 109-107