Reigning champion San Miguel Beer relied on a strong second half showing to squeeze out a 124-113 triumph over Phoenix Petroleum on Sunday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Returning import Arizona Reid scattered 15 of his 41 points in the third period in addition to his 10 rebounds and four assists, while 6’10 center June Mar Fajardo racked up 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting field along with 11 rebounds and two blocks to lead the Beermen to 1-0 win-loss record.
Playmaker Alex Cabagnot dazzled with 20 points on top of four rebounds and three assists, while Marcio Lassiter had 12 points plus six rebounds and six assists, and Brian Heruela contributed eight points also for the Beermen.
“This win is very important for us because we want to have a good start,” said San Miguel Beer mentor Leo Austria during the post game interview. “We have a title to defend and Arizona, our import, hates to lose.”
San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos and Gabby Espinas didn’t play due to knee injuries. “They will be out for three weeks,” Austria added.
Santos underwent an arthroscopic surgery on Saturday to repair damaged tissues in his left knee.
After leading by four at the end of first period, 33-29, the Beermen were outscored by the Fuel Masters in the second frame 40-31 behind the 22-point explosion of Simmons and new acquisition Cyrus Baguio added nine points allowing Phoenix to seize the edge at halftime 69-64.
Phoenix played outstanding in the first half leading over San Miguel Beer in overall field goal shooting (56-50%), assists (15-13) and rebounding (23-20). But San Miguel Beer, riding on the superb performance of Reid and Cabagnot, showed the heart of a true champion in the second half to get its lead back.
Besides Reid’s 15 points in the third period, Cabagnot added nine in that quarter to help San Miguel Beer outscore Phoenix 33-24 and seize the advantage 97-93 at the start of the payoff period.
The Beermen also edged the Fuel Masters in the final canto 27-20 to extend their lead to as many as 11 points and they didn’t look back since then.
Phoenix suffered its second straight loss after losing to Meralco on Friday.
Simmons finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, while rookie big man Norbert Torres scored a career-high 19 points on perfect 3-of-3 shooting beyond the arc plus nine rebounds to lead Phoenix.