AS Arnold Van Opstal’s first shot from the foul line went way off the mark, going wide left, his teammates on the bench and the rest of the San Miguel Beer gallery could not help but chuckle.
The seldom-used rookie slotman made up for it by knocking down his second try to the delight of the crowd as he made the most of his rare appearance.
Still, SMB could afford to have one of those light moments on Friday night as it cruised past Phoenix, 110-88, to register its second straight victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beermen broke away in the middle quarters and never looked back as they remained one of only three unbeaten remaining this conference.
June Mar Fajardo registered 22 points and eight boards, leading six players who scored in double figures for the Beermen, who handed the Fuel Masters their third loss in five games.
“This is our best start in a while (in import-loaded conference),” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “Last two years, lagi kami nagiistruggle. But with their experience sa last few conferences, talaga naging consistent sila.”
Even Charles Rhodes has fit in seamlessly for the three-time reigning Philippine Cup champions as the SMB import tallied 19 points, 10 boards, and one block, while Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and Chris Ross all chipped in double-digit scoring.
Jameel Mckay led the Fuel Masters with 21 points and 16 rebounds, but Matthew Wright went scoreless after missing all his 13 shots following a career-high 27 points in their win over Ginebra last Saturday in Davao.
Up by just one point after the first period, the Beermen outscored the Fuel Masters in the next two periods, 60-39, to set up the blowout that allowed Van Opstal and fellow freshman Rashawn McCarthy to get some playing time.
SMB 110 – Fajardo 22, Rhodes 19, Lassiter 15, Cabagnot 14, Ross 11, Santos 11, McCarthy 6, Agovida 4, Van Opstal 3, Espinas 3, Heruela 2, Semerad 0
PHOENIX 88 – McKay 21, Jazul 16, Intal 14, Dehesa 8, J. Wilson 6, Kramer 6, Alolino 4, Borboran 4, Miranda 3, Eriobu 2, Torres 2, Viernes 2, Wright 0, Baguio 0, Hayes 0, W. Wilson 0
Quarterscores: 24-23, 55-40, 84-62, 110-88