SAN Miguel Beer flaunted its depth as it outdueled Phoenix, 124-113, to get its title defense in the PBA Governors’ Cup started on the right track on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Despite missing four key players to injuries, the Beermen hardly lacked firepower as they traded long-range baskets with the Fuel Masters and emerged with more ammunition.
AZ Reid sparked the surge with 41 points, including nine in a telling 13-0 run to end the third quarter that allowed them to take the lead for good.
June Mar Fajardo came off the bench to add 21 markers, while Alex Cabagnot chipped in 20 points to provide the biggest local support for the SMB import as the Beermen kept the Fuel Masters winless in their first two games under new coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“This game was really important for us because we wanted to have a good start,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “We realized we cannot relax in every game because every team is very competitive with very competitive imports.”
The third-quarter salvo swelled into a backbreaking 19-1 run bridging the last two quarters that spelled the biggest difference in the victory. The Beermen maintained the pace as they built their biggest lead at 13, 120-107, after a made basket by Reid.
The young Fuel Masters looked poised for an upset as they caught fire from long range in the second quarter where they produced 40 points to gain a 69-64 lead at the break, the highest-scoring first half in over seven years.
Marcus Simmons led the rally with 16 of his 28 points in the second period, where Norbert Torres, Cyrus Baguio, Mark Cruz, Simon, Enciso, and Lee Gwan Hee also found the mark that went for naught.
SMB 124 – Reid 41, Fajardo 21, Cabagnot 20, Lassiter 12, Heruela 8, David 7, Tubid 5, Ross 4, Reyes 4, Arana 2, Semerad 0
HOENIX 113 – Simmons 28, Torres 19, Baguio 13, Cruz 13, Enciso 12, Hee 9, J. Wilson 7, Caperal 7, Pennisi 3, Buenafe 2, Lanete 0
Quarterscores: 33-29, 64-69, 97-93, 124-113