JUNE Mar Fajardo tallied a season-high 40 points as San Miguel clinched a quarterfinal berth with a 113-107 win over NorthPort on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Fajardo dominated the NorthPort frontline as he also grabbed 19 rebounds as the Beermen won their fourth straight game to improve their record to 6-3.
In extending its winning streak, San Miguel closed in on second placer Rain or Shine (7-3) to stay within a shot at the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Fajardo was near perfect from the field, missing just one of his 15 shots in the best individual performance thus far in the conference. He also made 12 of his 16 attempts from the free throw line-up.
“It was a scary start for us,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “Fortunately, the sense of urgency prevailed and they know the importance of this game. We are still on track of achieving our goal of making it to the top two.”
Back-to-back baskets by Fajardo and a triple by Marcio Lassiter gave San Miguel the lead, 64-59, in the third period.
Despite repeated rallies by the Batang Pier, San Miguel turned to Fajardo, whose tough jumper over Mo Tautuaa with the shotclock winding down handed the Beermen a 109-105 lead with 55 seconds left in the ballgame.
It was Fajardo’s fourth 40-point game of his career, the recent one, a 42-point effort against Magnolia in last year’s Philippine Cup final.
Terrence Romeo had 23 points against the team that drafted him in the PBA, while Lassiter had 15 points including four triples.
Mo Tautuaa had a career-high 28 points but it was not enough as the Batang Pier slipped to 2-5 and have lost five straight games.
SMB 113 – Fajardo 40, Romeo 23, Lassiter 15, Santos 11, Nabong 11, Ross 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Cabagnot 0, Pessumal 0.
NORTHPORT 107 – Tautuaa 28, Anthony 16, Bolick 12, Grey 12, Taha 11, Elorde 11, Pringle 10, Lanete 5, Guinto 2, Gabayni 0, Sollano 0.
Quarters: 21-25; 50-54; 84-77; 113-107.