Charles Rhodes was simply unstoppable when he led San Miguel Beer (SMB) to a 114-108 victory over the retooled Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City on Friday. The win assured the Beermen of a quarterfinals slot.
With SMB enjoying a 24-point lead in third period, the Road Warriors attempted a comeback reducing the deficit to just a single digit late in the game.
NLEX’s import Wayne Chism and newly acquired reinforcement Alex Mallari scored a basket and a triple, respectively, to close the gap, 108-114, with only 20 ticks left in the game. But there is simply not enough time and Beermen escaped with the win.
Rhodes led the Beermen with 37 points on 17-of-22 shooting from the field on top of 19 rebounds and three blocks. Playmaker Chris Ross added 15 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and four steals to the victory that improved San Miguel Beer’s win-loss record to a 6-1.
Although they controlled most part of the game, the latter part of the match made San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria anxious. “They caught us really flat and I was worried because of the long lay-off,” said Austria. “You can see it in the first quarter.”
NLEX outscored San Miguel Beer in the payoff period 35-25.
“At the same time, we couldn’t take them lightly because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’m happy we were able to recover and dictate the game’s tempo.”
The league took a one-week break to give way to the country’s hosting of 12th Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship, which the Philippines dominated anew.
Fresh from his Gilas Pilipinas SEABA stint, three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo finished with 12 points for SMB.
The other Beermen who scored in double figures were Arwind Santos (13), Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot (12).
Import Wayne Chism led the Road Warriors with 22 points while Jay-R Quinahan and Alex Mallari, in their debut with NLEX, scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
SAN MIGUEL 114 – Rhodes 37, Ross 15, Santos 13, Cabagnot 12, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Espinas 8, Heruela 5, Reyes 0, Agovida 0.
NLEX 108 – Chism 22, Al-Hussaini 18, Quinahan 12, Lastimosa 12, Mallari 11, Tiongson 10, Alas 9, Rios 7, Baracael 5, Soyud 2, Taulava 0, Ighalo 0.
Quarter Scores: 36-22, 60-43, 89-73, 114-108.