COMING out with a renewed vigor under a new coach and an old name that carries a long, winning tradition, San Miguel Beer (formerly Petron) came out smoking from the second period onwards to crush Meralco, 94-76, to kick off its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign in a high note Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Arwind Santos, backup big man Doug Kramer, starting for the injured June Mar Fajardo, and Marcio Lassiter, led the Beermen’s auspicious conference debut as they repeatedly abused the anemic interior defense of the Bolts.
Determined to leave behind its trail of heartbreak under its previous name Petron, San Miguel played with a lot of energy and flare as against a lackluster Meralco side that is coming off a ninth place finish in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
The Beermen made their move in the second period when they turned what was once a tight 20-all contest to an 11-point lead at the half.
Santos, Kramer, and Lassiter kept stroking from inside and outside, while Chris Lutz’s three-point shot in front of the Beermen’s bench gave them their biggest lead of 80-60 midway in the final period.
“Talagang we need this win to build up our confidence. Siyempre, there’s a lot of pressure on us,” said Biiboy Ravanes after notching his first win right in his coaching debut.
American coach Todd Purves, who is taking a more active role in the bench, said they are pleased to see the effort of the locals and even import Josh Boone, who is under extreme pressure to deliver after online reports floated that this would be his first and last game with the team.
The 6-foot-9 Boone still managed to churn out a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds despite picking up his fifth foul midway in the third quarter.
Purves commended the former New Jersey Nets forward for coming out and playing like a true professional.
“He (Boone) was more than a professional tonight and he came out and gave us a great effort,” said Purves, who declined to comment on Boone’s supposed replacement Kevin Jones.
A report posted by online sports site RealGM, mentioned that Jones has left his D-League club Canton Charge to join San Miguel in the Philippines even before Boone could make his debut for the team on Friday.
Santos also scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and added three steals in an all-around effort, while Kramer added 14 and six boards.
Lassiter chipped in 12 points, seven boards, and six assists.
Meralco got 29 points and 21 rebounds from import Brian Butch, but the 2010 NBA D-League Impact Player of the Year failed to get any support from his teammates, except for Gary David who added 20.
SAN MIGUEL BEER (94) -- Boone 16, Santos 16, Kramer 14, Lassiter 12, Mercado 8, Tubid 7, Duncil 6, Lutz 6, Hubalde 4, Ross 4, Maierhofer 1, Taha 0.
MERALCO (76) -- Butch 29, David 20, Hugnatan 8, Hodge 7, Wilson 5, Al-Hussaini 4, Caram 2, Artadi 1, Ildefonso 0, Salvacion 0, Guevarra 0, Dillinger 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20; 40-29; 69-52; 94-76.