A SHORTHANDED San Miguel Beer side still proved too much for Star as it waltzed to a 117-98 victory on Easter Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to breathe down leader Meralco’s neck in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup standings.
The long-range barrage of import Tyler Wilkerson and Marcio Lassiter more than made up for the absence of injured June Mar Fajardo and grieving Arwind Santos, as well as Rondal Tubid as the Beermen sent the Hotshots crashing back to earth with their first loss in four games.
Wilkerson knocked down eight three-pointers and finished with 44 points, while Lasster drained six treys and ended up with 25 points for the Beermen, who notched a second straight win and fifth overall in seven games to move just a half-game behind the Bolts.
The Hotshots failed to sustain their early gains as they dropped below .500 at 4-5 overall.
“The players were challenged because of the absence of June mar, Tubid, and Arwind,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, whose team dedicated the game to Santos, whose mother, Araceli, passed away last week. “I’m happy dahil nagtulungan sila.”
Alex Cabagnot and Ryan Arana also made significant contributions as Chris Ross facilitated the offense with aplomb, tallying 11 points and 10 assists as the Philippine Cup Finals MVP came up just two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
Wilkerson scattered 16 of his total point production in the payoff period, including a triple that gave the Beermen their biggest lead at 107-85.
His Hotshots counterpart, Ricardo Ratliffe, also made a good account of himself with 33 points and 21 rebounds, but the squad failed to find an answer to SMB’s hot shooting.
The Hotshots made it a close fight early as they engaged the Beermen in a nip-and-tuck affair in the opening period where they once led by three points.
SMB 117 – Wilkerson 44, Lassiter 25, Cabagnot 13, Ross 11, Arana 8, Semerad 6, Reyes 4, De Ocampo 2, Heruela 2, Mabulac 2, Espinas 0, Lutz 0
STAR 98 – Ratliffe 33, Yap 17, Maliksi 15, Simon 14, Barroca 8, Reavis 6, Pingris 3, Melton 2, Mallari 0, Pascual J. 0, Sangalang 0
Quarterscores: 32-30, 54-45, 85-71, 117-98