SAN Miguel Beer brought its best against quality competition as it held off TNT KaTropa, 99-94, in a heated PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals rematch that lived up to its billing on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Renaldo Balkman carried the Beermen with 43 points as SMB played above the physicality to get back on the winning track after improving to an even 4-4 win-loss record.
The Beermen also handed the Texters their second straight loss and only third overall in nine games.
The defending champion Beermen prevailed despite seeing Marcio Lassiter Arwind Santos get ejected after figuring in commotions with Terrence Romeo and Anthony Semerad, respectively.
“This is a badly needed game,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “Thankful kami that we’re able to survive.”
Balkman took most of the cudgels, heating up early by scattering 19 points in the first period, before steadily adding to his output from thereon as the locals also made contributions.
June Mar Fajardo added 19 points, six boards, two blocks, and one steal in 43 minutes, while Alex Cabagnot was the other SMB player in double-digit scoring with 12 points, four assists, two boards, and three steals.
Chris Ross missed all but one of his nine shots, but made the one that mattered – a long triple from near the left wing that gave the Beermen a 97-88 lead with a little over three minutes left, enough cushion to overcome the Texters’ last-ditch effort.
Ross finished with an all-around performance of seven points, 12 boards, seven assists, and six steals in almost 41 minutes on the court.
Joshua Smith led the Texters with 26 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks with less four minutes of rest that went to waste.
SMB 99 – Balkman 43, Fajardo 19, Cabagnot 12, Ross 7, Lassiter 7, Santos 7, Pessumal 4, Lanete 0, Rosser 0.
TNT 94 - Smith 26, Pogoy 13, Trollano 13, Rosario 8, Williams 8, Castro 7, Semerad 6, Reyes 6, Cruz 3, Romeo 2, Garcia 2, Taha 0.
Quarters: 33-22, 55-46, 79-72, 99-94.