ANTIPOLO – San Miguel Beer survived Barako Bull, 106-105, behind the heroics of Arwind Santos to regain the solo lead in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center.
Santos scored the putback off a Marcio Lassiter missed jumper that spelled the difference for the Beermen, mirroring a game-winning follow-up by Mac Belo in Far Eastern University's win over Ateneo in the UAAP Final Four.
Ironically, Santos is an FEU alumnus.
That put to naught a step-back three-pointer by RR Garcia - another FEU alum - in the previous play that would’ve allowed the Energy to escape with an upset.
As a result, the Beermen notched a third straight win and fifth overall against a lone loss, while the Energy dropped to an even 3-3 win-loss card.
“I knew from the start it would be a tough game, because I saw the body of language of Barako Bull, but one point is still a win, so tatanggapin ko ng buong puso ito,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said.
Santos, nursing a calf injury, finished with 15 points, six boards, and three assists as he ably provided support to June Mar Fajardo, who put up another dominant performance with 28 points and 20 boards.
The Beermen built an early 10-point lead, but saw the Energy erase it and even establish their own cushion, before both teams engaged each other in a nip-and-tuck battle that saw 19 lead changes and 10 dealdocks.
Josh Urbiztondo led the Energy with 19 points, all but two in an torrid third-quarter outburst that helped them build an eight-point lead.
Jeric Fortuna contributed all his six points against his former team in the final frame, the last two on an impressive left-handed layup over Santos off a blow-by drive that wowed the crowd.
San Miguel 106 - Fajardo 28, Tubid 16, Santos 15, Cabagnot 12, Espinas 11, Lassiter 11, Lutz 4, Ross 3, Arana 2, De Ocampo 2, Heruela 2, Reyes 0.
Barako Bull 105 - Urbiztondo 19, Wilson 18, Pennisi 15, Garcia 14, Baracael 9, Brondiual 7, Fortuna 6, Monfort 6, Intal 5, Lanete 4, Caperal 2.
Quarterscores: 28-18; 48-55; 76-80; 106-105.