San Miguel went on a rampage in the opening half and survived a late Converge fightback to take the quarterfinal series opener, 114-96, Wednesday in the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Beermen went up by as much as 31 points but still suffered anxious moments in the payoff period after the FiberXers managed to cut the deficit to 11 on a booming triple by guard Aljun Melecio. The defending champions, however, featuring Devon Scott, June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez, recovered their bearings and unleashed a telling run which led to insurmountable 20-point lead, 112-92, with just a little over 2 minutes left on the game clock.
The victory avenged the team’s 102-106 loss during the elimination round and moved the league’s winningest franchise to just a win away from a semis stint opposite the winner of the Bay Arena vs Rain or Shine encounter.
Perez led the charge with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. The top overall pick of the 2018 draft added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal to his tally.
“We just have to protect the lead. I also addressed ‘yung team or ‘yung players, we can’t relax on teams like this. This is already the playoffs. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t a good team,” said SMB lead assistant Jorge Gallent who improved to 5-0 since head coach Leo Austria has been placed under the league’s health and safety protocols.
“I always tell them, we have to play 48 minutes of aggressive basketball and then we will be all right. But if we lapse 2 to 3 minutes, we give them opportunities to take advantage of our lapses. We can’t do that,” he added.
Scott finished with a double-double of 23 points and 12 boards in addition to 5 assists and 3 steals in 40 minutes of play. Fajardo also came up with his own double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds while Terrence Romeo and Marcio Lassiter added 13 and 11 markers, respectively. Simon Enciso chipped in 8 points plus a game-high 10 assists.