TURNOVERS added to the misery of San Miguel as the June Mar Fajardo-less Beermen failed to keep their composure in the endgame and lost the series opener of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup finals against Alaska, 100-91, on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen led by as many as 78-66 early in the fourth quarter but fell to a maze of errors along the way, enabling the Aces to rally and steal Game One of the best-of-seven series.
Although Alaska had more turnovers against the defending champions, 19-18, San Miguel committed seven in the pivotal period alone - something which coach Leo Austria rued after seeing a win slip away.
“In the endgame especially in the last three minutes we committed a lot of turnovers, and that’s very costly for us,” said the San Miguel coach in his post-game interview.
“Our turnovers beat us.”
Alaska outscored San Miguel in points off turnovers, 24-15, and in second chance points, 23-4.
“They scored 47 points out of that were easy points and before it never happened to us,” said Austria of the obvious discrepancy.
But the ‘Kraken’ was definitely badly missed by the reigning champions.
Without the 6-foot-11 Fajardo, the Beermen were clobbered off the boards by the Aces, 48-28. The San Miguel star player averages 26.3 points, 14.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks in the all-Filipino conference.
The 28 rebounds of the Beermen were the lowest by any team in the finals, according to PBA head statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
“Tonight there’s a lot of offensive rebounding and that’s because we don’t have June Mar anymore,” said Austria.
“It’s really tough when you don’t have your MVP out there,” stressed San Miguel gunner Marcio Lassiter about the absence of the most dominant big man in the league today.