San Miguel Beer needed a strong second half to silence the upset-hungry Blackwater, 124-113, boosting its twice-to-beat advantage bid in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Trailing 90-96 going to the fourth period, the Beermen exploded in the final 12 minutes behind the 15 markers from import Charles Rhodes to outscore the Elite, 34-17, and improve their mark to 8-2 win-loss record.
“I was worried earlier and I think that was the scariest game we had this season,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “But they refused to be beaten by Blackwater. It’s a lesson for us. We cannot take any team for granted.”
Rhodes tallied 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting from the field plus nine rebounds, June Mar Fajardo added 28 points while Marcio Lassiter netted 21 points and eight steals to lead the Beermen.
Blackwater ended its campaign with a 2-9 slate.
The Elite appeared to have full control of the game after posting a 72-56 halftime lead behind their 40-26 scoring spree in the second quarter. Nino Canaleta and Mark Cruz starred in Blackwater’s impressive run in the second period.
San Miguel opened the second half with an 18-2 run capped by Lassiter’s lay-up to tie the game at 74-all with 7:58 left in the third period.
Chris Ross, who notched 14 points, 13 assists and three steals, hit a triple with 7:57 to give San Miguel the lead, 102-99, and Rhodes’ slam made it 120-109 with 12 second remaining.
Arwind Santos and Gabby Espinas finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively, also for the Beermen.
Greg Smith led Blackwater with 21 points and 22 rebounds but committed 11 turnovers.