Reigning PBA Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer went out with guns blazing early and carved out a 121-111 wire-to-wire decision over NLEX Friday night in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup at Araneta Coliseum.
“I’m so happy tonight for that win. But we’re still aiming for one of the top two slots,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria. “It’s [going to be] very hard but the chance is still there.”
The four-time conference champions mounted a blistering 28-4 run in the opening salvo en route to the victory with June Mar Fajardo leading the way.
The reigning Most Valuable Player finished the game with 27 points, 13 rebounds and a pair of assists including an audacious triple from the right corner.
Asked about the strong start, Austria, whose team improved to 5-3, said it was all thanks to the 26 days of break.
“It helped us because we suffered a lot of injuries and illnesses to our players. And when June Mar and Marcio (Lassiter) came back from Kazakhstan, they weren’t that much in shape,” the mentor explained in Filipino.
Skipper Alex Cabagnot had 18 markers as Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter pumped in 17 and 16, respectively.
NLEX leaned on JR Quiñahan who had 17 points while Juami Tiongson and Poy Erram each had 16, but they had no answer to Beermen’s torrid shooting from downtown.
San Miguel had 20 conversions from the three-point land, three buckets away from the all-time league record they share with TNT.
“They played really hard—especially in the first period. The sense of urgency was really evident,” Austria said.
The victory hiked San Miguel Beer’s record to 5-3. The Beermen face struggling NorthPort this Sunday.
NLEX, which slid to 2-5, faces Alaska next on Mar. 13 in a yet-to-be-determined venue.