SAN Miguel Beer took the thrill out of an expected dogfight early as it ambushed Barangay Ginebra, 109-82, on Friday night to gain the head start in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The Beermen clicked on both ends from the get go as they established a 35-12 lead after the first quarter and never looked back to coast to the Game One victory before 14,026 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alex Cabagnot sparked the blowout with 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter for the Beermen, who maintained a comfortable lead that ballooned to 36 points, giving coach Leo Austria the luxury to give more rest to June Mar Fajardo and the rest of the starters. Arwind Santos was the only SMB player to reach the 30-minute mark.
“I really didn’t expect this kind of game, but kita mo naman mga players ko, talagang nanlilisik ang mga mata,” Austria said in the post-game conference.
“But whether we beat them by one or thirty, this is just one game,” he was quick to add. “I’m sure they will come back stronger.”
Both teams travel to Lucena for Game Two on Sunday at the Quezon Convention Center.
Fajardo, despite not practicing the last two days due to fever, still finished with a game-high 17 points on7-of-8 shooting and missed a double-double by two rebounds, adding three blocks, and two assists in 22 minutes.
You know it’s definitely SMB’s night as Chris Ross continued to deliver on offense by also tallying 17 markers on top of eight assists, five boards, and one block in 29 minutes.
With their starters having extra rest, Gabby Espinas and Ronald Tubid took advantage of the extra playing time, firing 16 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench, with seldom-used rookie Arnold Van Opstal even seeing action for almost three minutes.
Chris Ellis led the Gin Kings with 13 points in the last three quarters as Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, and the rest of the Ginebra starters combining for a measly 19 points.
SMB 109 – Ross 17, Fajardo 17, Cabagnot 16, Espinas 16, Tubid 11, Santos 9, Lassiter 8, Agovida 7, Heruela 4, Reyes 2, De Ocampo 2, Van Opstal 0, Mabulac 0, McCarthy 0
GNEBRA 82 - Ellis 13, Cruz 12, Caguioa 12, Thompson 10, Taha 9, Tenorio 5, Aguilar 5, Mariano 4, Jamito 4, Devance 3, Mercado 2, Ferrer 2, Marcelo 1, Helterbrand 0, De Guzman 0
Quarterscores: 35-12, 60-39, 89-56, 109-82