MANILA — San Miguel Beer hardly missed the services of hotshot June Mar Fajardo as the Beermen made a statement in its first game of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup by downing Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 94-78, on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
SMB played without injured six-time Most Valuable Player-awardee June Mar Fajardo but the Beermen showed they had enough firepower to compete and win in securing their first victory of the conference.
In what could be a rematch of last season’s All-Filipino Finals, San Miguel pulled away in the second quarter behind Moala Tautuaa and Arwind Santos, and weathered Magnolia’s repeated comeback attempts in the second half.
“Masaya ako, dahil na-surprise ako sa nilaro ng mga bata, both offense and defense,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria afterward. “They played really well.”
“I have to commend them. Everybody stepped up. Maybe, inspired sila kay June Mar. In spite of the situation, he watched the game,” he added.
READ: June Mar wins record-extending 6th straight MVP award
San Miguel outscored Magnolia, 27-15, in the second quarter to take control of the game, with Tautuaa and Marcio Lassiter each providing seven points. The lead ballooned to 23 points, 60-37, in the third quarter when the Beermen waxed hot from beyond the arc.
But Magnolia refused to go away quietly, with Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon anchoring a blistering 17-1 run that made it a close game, 61-54. Jalalon’s layup with 1:16 left made it 63-56, before the Beermen finished the third quarter on a 6-0 run.
In the fourth quarter, Terrence Romeo made a host of difficult shots to ensure that Magnolia stayed at bay, and Arwind Santos drilled the dagger triple with a shade over a minute left.
Tautaa finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Santos also had a double-double of 18 points and 15 boards to go with his 5 steals. Romeo had 19 markers, Lassiter added 17, and Cabagnot contributed 10 as San Miguel drew production across the board.
The Beermen shot 48.7% from the field while limiting Magnolia to just 38.3%. Paul Lee led the Hotshots with 19 points, while Jackson Corpuz (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Ian Sangalang (16 points, 11 rebounds) both produced double-doubles. (With reports by ABS-CBN News)