SAN Miguel Beer came through when it counted most again as it frustrated NLEX, 109-98, in a heated PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo led the Beermen in a nip-and-tuck battle that only saw the two teams get separated in an ill-tempered endgame marred by several second motions and a verbal altercation between Chris Ross and NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
The Beermen stretched their win streak to four games to solidify their hold on the top spot while handing the Road Warriors their third straight loss after a 2-0 start.
“I knew from the start this would be an exciting game,” SMB coach Leo Austria said of NLEX. “After losing their last two games, they would come out strong. But my players, because of their pride and experience, we prevailed.”
Santos registered a game-high 26 points embellished by five treys, on top of 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. His last three-pointer capped a 16-4 that gave the Beermen their biggest lead at 103-89 with a little over two minutes left after NLEX pulled to within 87-85.
Despite the game going beyond reach, the physicality between the players kept it interesting. Michael Miranda let out a kick to Ross that led to the former getting called for flagrant foul 2 and ejected with over four minutes left.
Ross was again involved in a tussle, this time a shouting match with Guiao as the two were each called for a technical foul.
Fajardo, one of the cool heads that kept the situation from going out of hand, added 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, 16 boards, two assists, one steal, and one block in 36 minutes.
Alex Cabagnot chipped in an all-around performance of 14 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and two steals in 33 minutes, while Marcio Lassiter and Von Pessumal were the other two SMB players who scored in double digits.
Kiefer Ravena led the Road Warriors with 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting, along with six assists, and three boards that went for naught.
SMB 109 — Santos 26, Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 14, Pessumal 10, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, De Ocampo 4, Ross 4, Heruela 2, Mamaril 2, Semerad 2
NLEX 98 — Ravena 15, Mallari 12, Quiñahan 12, Soyud 12, Miranda 10, Tiongson 8, Fonacier 6, Uyloan 6, Al-Hussaini 5, Alas 5, Taulava 3, Baguio 2, Gotladera 2
Quarterscores: 31-24, 49-58, 74-74, 109-98