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    San Miguel shakes off rust to clinch PBA playoff berth at expense of rejigged NLEX

    May 19, 2017
    San Miguel guard Chris Ross goes for a drive against NLEX. Jaime Campos

    SAN Miguel Beer shook off some rust as it held off NLEX, 114-108, to formalize its entry to the playoffs of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup upon its resumption on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.

    The Beermen overcame a sluggish start before settling down against the new-look Road Warriors to get back on the winning track and register their sixth victory in seven games.

    Charles Rhodes carried most of the load, tallying 37 points, 19 boards, three blocks, and two assists for the Beermen, while Chris Ross, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter ably supported the SMB import.

    June Mar Fajardo showed his professionalism as he surprisingly suited up a day after playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the gold-medal match of the Seaba Championship against Indonesia, contributing 12 points and four boards in 30 minutes for the Beermen.

    As a result, the Beermen kept the retooled Road Warriors winless after nine games.

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    “I was really worried of this game because of a long layoff,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “They caught us really flat. In the first quarter, makita mo sluggish kami.”

    “We knew we couldn’t take them lightly because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” he added of the Road Warriors. “Good thing we were able to recover and dictate the tempo of the game.”

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    After all, the Road Warriors, fielding trade recruits Alex Mallari and JR Quinahan, took the early lead that they sustained for the first eight minutes of the first quarter, before the Beermen embarked on backbreaking run to immediately turn the game around and build a 14-point lead after the period.

    Then it looked like everyone was watching a game in the Seaba where blowout games were near certainty as the Beermen maintained a sizeable cushion that ballooned to 24 points, before the Road Warriors made a late rally that proved too little too late.

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    Ross registered 15 points, 11 assists, and four steals, and missed a triple-double by just three rebounds in an efficient 35 minutes of play, while Santos added 13 points and two blocks in just 18 minutes.

    Cabagnot churned out 12 points and 10 assists, while Lassiter chipped in 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

    Wayne Chism led the Road Warriors with 22 points, four boards, three assists, and three blocks in a losing effort.

    The scores:

    SMB 114 – Rhodes 37, Ross 15, Santos 13, Cabagnot 12, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Espinas 8, Heruela 5, Reyes 0, Agovida 0

    NLEX 108 – Chism 22, Al-Hussaini 18, Quinahan 12, Lastimosa 12, Mallari 11, Tiongson 10, Alas 9, Rios 7, Baracael 5, Soyud 2, Taulava 0, Ighalo 0

    Quarterscores: 36-22, 60-43, 89-73, 114-108

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    San Miguel guard Chris Ross goes for a drive against NLEX. Jaime Campos
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