SAN Miguel Beer is back in business in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Beermen routed NLEX, 114-108, to assume the lead as the heated race for playoff incentives continued in the resumption of the midseason conference a day after the conclusion of the SEABA tournament.
The Beermen played without no ‘rust at all’ after a long layoff, nor showed any sign of it the whole game at the Cuneta Astrodome.
They encountered some opposition only early in the game, but soon they caught fire which never wavered the rest of the way.
The Beermen not only grabbed the provisional solo lead with their sixth win in seven outings. They also bounced back from a 112-103 loss they suffered at the hands of Talk ‘N Text on May 5, or a few days before the league took a weeklong break to give way for the hosting of SEABA tournament which Gilas Pilipinas handily won.
Charles Rhodes knocked in 37 points and hauled down 19 rebounds as he outdueled NLEX’s import Wayne Chism who managed just 22 points and four rebounds.
More than that, Rhodes also got full complement from five Beermen who finished with enviable numbers as San Miguel kept the Road Warriors winless in all their nine outings in the midseason conference.
Chris Ross finished with 15 points on top of seven rebounds and 11 assists, while Arwind Santos added 13 points.
Just as commendable were Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot who chipped in 12 points each for the Beermen, who are gunning to clinch one of the top two spots that offer twice-to-beat advantages in the next round.
If any, the only time the Beermen sputtered was late in the third when they allowed the Road Warriors to make a brief run that saw them come within 89-73 at the end of the third, and late in the fourth quarter when the time was already on the side of the Beermen.
The Road Warriors seemed to have totally lost their heart to play, that after fighting a good fight in the first six minutes of the game, their offense and defense went in tatters.
From that 20-all standoff, the Beermen limited the Road Warriors to a solitary basket courtesy of Wayne Chism, while coming away with 17 points, including a triple each from Chriss Ross and Brian Heruela.
Rhodes had a pair of slam dunks and a 15-foot jumper in that scoring run, while Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas a basket each as the Beermen ripped the game apart right at the end of the opening quarter, 36-22.
Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo made their presence felt in the succeeding second quarter, with the high leaping Santos sinking a pair of triples and Fajardo a five-point cluster as the Beermen sustained the momentum for a 60-43 lead at the turn.
After two quarters, Rhodes was able to tally 20 points and 11 rebounds and Santos 10 makers for the Beermen, who had more assists the entire first half, 17-10, while sinking 10 of 23 three-point attempts.
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.
Quarters: 36-22, 60-43, 89-73, 114-108.