San Miguel turned off the self-destruct mode this time around and got rewarded with a 91-88 win over hard-luck NorthPort, the former’s first in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Beermen came up with the clutch plays that mattered in the end, enabling them to thwart the Batang Pier, who came charging back from a couple of 27-point deficits in the third period to make a game of it in the payoff quarter.
Despite scoring just five points in the entire second half Brandon Brown still led SMB with 24 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists as the Beermen notched their first win after losses to NLEX and Alaska in the season-ending tourney.
“After two losses it’s a wake-up call for us and I’m so lucky that the players, after a lengthy talk with the team, they responded, especially in the first three quarters,” said SMB coach Leo Austria.
“But nandoon pa rin ‘yung nag-re-relax sa dulo.”
Indeed, it took some doing before SMB could thwart NorthPort, which came charging back from two 27-point deficits in the third quarter to make a game of it despite playing minus import Cameron Forte, who sat it out with a leg injury.
Brown, who never tasted victory after playing six games as a replacement import for Phoenix in the 2017 edition of the same tourney, helped make sure that elusive first win is nabbed by sinking two free throws that pegged a 91-85 count, 60 seconds left.
San Miguel 91 – Brown 24, Fajardo 15, Perez 15, Lassiter 12, Manuel 10, Pessumal 9, Romeo 6, Enciso 0, Tautuaa 0.
NorthPort 88 – Bolick 24, Santos 23, Malonzo 22, Slaughter 10, Taha 4, Grey 2, Ferrer 2, Balanza 1, Elorde 0, Doliguez 0, Rike 0.
Quarterscores: 26-9, 49-31, 72-58, 91-88.