The frontcourt duo of Arwind Santos and Junemar Fajardo powered the San Miguel Beermen’s 101-90 win over the Star Hotshots to gain a share of the top spot in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup 2016 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
Santos finished with 22 points and seven rebounds while big man Fajardo notched 27 points and 16 rebounds. San Miguel Beer is now sharing the top spot with Alaska that is also carrying a six win and one loss card.
After being held into a 19-all deadlock in the first canto, the Beermen, behind Marcio Lassiter’s eight-point explosion, increased the intensity of their game in the second quarter to grab a 43-41 lead at the break.
San Miguel Beer sustained their onslaught in the second half through the efforts of Santos and Fajardo.
Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Chris Lutz and Chris Ross posted nine points each.
On the other end, James Yap, in their sixth loss in seven games in the tournament, finished with 22 points on a 57 percent shooting performance.
Beermen coach Leo Austria commended his two frontliners Santos and Fajardo for their vital role in the offensive that they launched toward the end of the match.
“Well, I think the reason our surge in the second half is successful because of Arwind and June Mar. It’s not just our offensive prowess but also from our defense,” he said.
Meanwhile, Aldrech Ramos led the Mahindra Enforcers past the Meralco Bolts, 86-83, to notch their second win in the opening conference of this year’s PBA season.
Ramos posted a total of 15 points and nine rebounds to propel his team past the hapless Meralco Bolts, who now hold a record of one win and seven losses.
Despite a slow opening quarter, the Enforcers swiftly took the upper hand posting a 16-12 edge against the Bolts after the first 12 minutes of action.
However, Meralco retaliated from the field in the second period to clinch 27 big points before halftime to overtake Mahindra at the break, 35-39.
Meralco sustained its momentum through the start of the third period with returning center Rabeh Al-Hussaini leading the charge of the Bolts with eight points in the quarter. The Bolts managed to grab the lead, 58-64 but Mahindra recovered in the final moments of the last quarter. A trey by Jimmy Alapag put his team to within striking distance, 86-83, with just 8.9 seconds left on the clock.
Alapag once again tried his luck from beyond the arc with less than three seconds left in regulation but his shot was blocked by LA Revilla.
Yee ended the match with a total of 14 points while Pascual and Revilla added 12 points each.
Veteran gunner Gary David led the Bolts with 18 points while Cliff Hodge posted an impressive 14 points and 20 boards as they drop solo to the bottom of the league rankings.
“Before this game, we prepared really hard. I told my players it’s about our mental toughness. We’ve been here before. Almost all of games, we can win them. Kaso medyo natatalo kami sa huli,” head coach Chito Victolero said of their hard-earned win during the post-match press conference.
Victolero added that the win is a great morale booster for his wards reiterating that their hopes of clinching a spot in the playoffs is still within reach.
“The experience from this win is good for our team. I know we are a young team but I believe we can do it,” he said.
Mahindra (86) – Ramos 15, Yee 14, Pascual 12, Revilla 12, Pinto 10, Canaleta 8, Guinto 5, Laure 5, Dehesa 3, Hubalde 2.
Meralco (83) – David 18, Al-Hussaini 15, Hodge 14, Alapag 10, Amer 10, Ry. Buenafe 6, Atkins 4, Newsome 4, Nabong 2.
Star (88) – Yap 22, Barroca 15, Simon 10, Taha 10, Cruz 7, Pingris 7, J. Pascual 6, Mallari 5, Sangalang 4, Maliksi 2, Torres 2.
San Miguel (101) – Fajardo 27, Santos 22, Cabagnot 11, Lassiter 10, Lutz 9, Ross 9, Espinas 8, Tubid 3, Arana 2.