ALASKA coach Alex Compton was an interested spectator at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on All Souls Day watching the San Miguel-Barako Bull PBA Philippine Cup game.
And from his seat at ringside, he definitely liked what he saw.
With an undermanned roster, the San Miguel Beermen struggled for almost the entire game before turning back a hard-fighting Barako Bull Energy, 103-89, to keep their unbeaten record intact and tie the Aces at the top of the standings on Sunday night.
What was expected to be a cruise turned into a dogfight for the Beermen, who needed a late-game spurt from Arwind Santos, June Mar Fajardo, and Marcio Lassiter to avert a Barako Bull upset.
San Miguel is now 3-0 to start the season-opening conference going to its highly-anticipated showdown against Alaska on Wednesday.
Coach Leo Austria said the Beermen could have been thinking ahead of their match-up against the Aces that they struggled to put away the still winless Energy five (0-3).
“Surprise nga ako that the energy is too low. Maybe they were thinking about our next game (against Alaska),” said Austria.
With big men Doug Kramer (sprained ankle) and Rico Maierhofer (knee contusion) watching from the sidelines, Santos took over for the Beermen by scoring a game-high 27 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field, to go with seven rebounds.
The former league MVP got plenty of help from the 6-foot-9 Fajardo, who added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Lassiter with 20 as the three of them sparked a 14-2 San Miguel windup that took the fight out of the Energy,
Until that late scoring run, Barako was just within 89-87 following a Denok Miranda basket with 1:43 left in the game.
“Nasira ang rotation ko coz na-sideline si Doug (Kramer) and Rico (Maierhofer),” said Austria. “But I have to give credit to Koy (Banal) because it’s a different outlook yung binigay nila, yung na-scout ko sa kanila hindi nangyari.”
Miranda led all Barako scorers with 17 points, while JC Intal and Carlo Lastimosa had 12 each.
Lastimosa scored nine points in the fourth period, while Intal’s basket midway in the quarter gave the Energy their last taste of the lead at 82-80.
Lassiter then hit a three-pointer to give the Beermen -- who led by as large as 65-53 in the third quarter – the lead for good, 83-82.
San Miguel (103) – Santos 27, Lassiter 20, Fajardo 18, Mercado 12, Lutz 8, Omolon 8, Tubid 3, Semerad 2, Ross 2, Hubalde 2, Chua 1.
Barako Bull (89) – Miranda 17, Lastimosa 12, Intal 12, Fortuna 11, Lanete 10, Garcia 8, Pennisi 6, Paredes 4, Wilson 4, Salvador 2, Marcelo 2, Pascual 1.
Quarterscores: 26-24; 43-45; 70-68; 103-89.