Fajardo powers SMB to 7th win

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June Mar Fajardo finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds plus three blocks to power San Miguel Beer’s lopsided 102-86 win over Mahindra to emerge as solo top team in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

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Point guard Brian Heruela posted 14 points plus five assists while Arwind Santos and Ronald Tubid added 11 points each. Center Jay-R Reyes also notched 10 points and seven rebounds to improve the Beermen’s win-loss record to 7-1.

“I’m happy to see my second stringers stepped up tonight,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during the post-game interview. “I don’t want to be embarrassed by this team, so the players did all their best. I’m really happy about this win.”

Aldrech Ramos scored 13 points, while Nino Canaleta and rookie Bradwyn Guinto contributed 12 points apiece to lead Mahindra.

The Enforcers’ win-loss record dropped to 2-6.

In the first game, GlobalPort foiled Northern Luzon Expressway’s (NLEX) endgame rally, 96-90. The Batang Pier, with the win, secured the solo fourth place with 5-3 win-loss record.

Terrence Romeo and last year’s rookie of the year Stanley Pringle in the first two quarters posted a combined 35 points allowing GlobalPort to establish a huge 54-35 lead at halftime.

Pringle finished with 27 points via 10-of-13 shooting in the field plus seven rebounds and three assists. Romeo notched 22 of his 29 points in the first half.

Keith Jensen posted 14 points and seven rebounds also for GlobalPort.

Veteran center Paul Asi Taulava scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half in addition to 12 rebounds to help NLEX close the gap in the fourth period. Taulava also had 11 points each in the third and fourth quarter.

NLEX’s Kevin Alas, who finished with nine points, scored a three-point play to trim down their foes lead to only 90-92 in the last minute of the payoff period.

But GlobalPort’s Billy Mamaril, who had nine points and 13 rebounds, and Romeo, sank two free throws each under the final 50 seconds mark to stretch their lead to 96-90. NLEX failed to connect a basket in its last three possessions that made them lose the game.

“We’re up by 19, then all of the sudden NLEX came back,” said Batang Pier coach Pido Jarencio. “We focused on NLEX. We practiced immediately a day after our game last Sunday because we need to separate with NLEX in the team standings.”

The Road Warriors’ win-loss record dropped to 4-4.

Despite the win, Jarencio couldn’t hide his disappointment after learning that his alma mater University of Santo Tomas lost to Far Eastern University in the deciding Game 3 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball championship.

“My heart is bleeding three finals in four years, we lost and it hurts,” Jarencio, a former Growling Tigers coach, told reporters during the post-game interview. “I thought this is the right time. I guess this is not yet the time for UST.”

GlobalPort shot 43 percent overall in the field against NLEX’s 36. The Batang Pier had more three-point shots than the Road Warriors (8-2).

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