San Miguel fended off a late fightback by youth-laden Rain or Shine and carved out a 99-93 win Wednesday night in the elimination round of the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
CJ Perez led the Beermen charge with 21 points in 32 minutes of play while June Mar Fajardo added 10 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks as the Leo Austria-mentored squad improved to 5-1 which is good for solo top spot in the team standings. The Elasto Painters, meanwhile, slid further down with their 5th straight loss against a lone victory.
“This game, a tight game, it could develop a lot of character sa team. We’re learning how to win in a tight game. Before, alam namin kung papaano manalo but a lot of original players are not (anymore) on our team and we have a lot of injured players,” said Austria during the post-game press conference.
“I’m so happy for those players na coming off the bench na we seldom see on the court na nag-step up kahit na hindi sila umi-score but yung energy nila enough na iyon to relieve yung mga players an alam natin na starter and finisher,” he added.
“Pinapahirapan nila ako tumanggap sa shaded lane, so decoy muna,” said Fajardo during the Best Player of the Game interview.
“Set screens muna at kuha ng offensive rebounds, at maganda naman nilaro ng lahat ng mga teammates ko,” added the league’s one and only 6-time MVP awardee.
Marcio Lassiter and Rodney Brondial contributed 16 markers apiece while Jericho Cruz followed up his 22-point performance against Converge with 14 to go with 3 rebounds and 5 assists. Simon Enciso added 12 with half coming from beyond the arc.
The Beermen, who missed the services of Terrence Romeo, Chris Ross, Vic Manuel and Mo Tautuaa, return to action on Saturday, July 2 against the skidding NorthPort Batang Pier, 5:15pm at the same venue.