Back-to-back Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beer outplayed Meralco in the fourth quarter to post a come-from-behind 94-86 win on Saturday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Ibalong Centrum in Legazpi City, Albay.
Import Tyler Wilkerson posted 23 of his 27 points in the second half in addition to10 rebounds and two blocks, while forward Gabby Espinas shot a perfect 5-of-5 in the field for 13 points.
It was the Beermen’s third straight win for a 3-1 win-loss record.
“The three-game winning streak is a good thing for us because we didn’t have a good first game,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during the postgame interview. “It was really hard to win the first game because of the [hangover of the]championship celebration.”
Marcio Lassiter and playmaker Alex Cabagnot had 10 points each, June Mar Fajardo finished with nine points and 16 rebounds while Chris Ross had nine points.
After scoring a conference–best 52 points and 35 points in the last two games, the 6’8 Wilkerson was hampered after committing his third foul in the first quarter and his fourth foul in the second period.
Wilkerson just made four points in the first half. Without an import for most of the time in the opening period, the Beermen banked on Gabby Espinas and Arwind Santos to post a 19-13 lead at the end of first quarter.
But Meralco, through Gary David’s nine points and Ryan Buenafe’s two three-pointers outscored San Miguel Beer in the second frame 31-25 en route to a 44-all score at the halftime break.
The Bolts renewed their charge in the third period outscoring the Beermen by a single point 19-18 to begin the fourth quarter with a slim 63-62 lead.
Wilkerson regained his winning form in the last five minutes of the game scoring two crucial baskets to give the Beermen an 89-82 advantage with 2:38 to go.
Despite Meralco’s aggressiveness in the remaining two minutes, San Miguel Beer stood its ground establishing a comfortable five-point lead in the last 50-second mark.
San Miguel Beer outscored Me¬ralco in the fourth quarter 32-23.
Despite the loss, the Bolts remained on top of the standings with a 5-1 win-loss record.
Import Arinze Onuaku led the Bolts with 28 points and 30 rebounds, while David contributed 12 points.
Despite being beaten by the Bolts in rebound (47-63), the Beermen scored more three-point shots than the Bolts (9-4).
Meanwhile, GlobalPort and Blackwater will battle in the first game at 3 p.m. today, followed by the Talk ‘N Text and the Star Hotshots match at 5:15 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier, the Elite and the Tropang Texters are all holding 2-3 win-loss records.
The Hotshots are at the very bottom of the team standings with 1-4 win-loss record.