SMB turns back NLEX as Santos, Fajardo dominate


MANILA —The San Miguel Beermen frustrated the NLEX Road Warriors with a hard-fought 109-98 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night.

Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo dominated the game on both ends of the court to power SMB to a fourth straight win and a firm grip on the solo leadership in the standings. Santos top-scored with 26 points, including five three-pointers on 12 shots, on top of 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Fajardo was just as devastating, finishing with 25 points, 11 of them in the third quarter when the Beermen overhauled a nine-point halftime deficit to grab the lead for good. The four-time MVP also had 16 rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block.

Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter added 14 points apiece. Cabagnot also finished with nine assists and seven rebounds while Lassiter, who was 3-of-8 from downtown, had four rebounds and four assists. Von Pessumal chipped in 10 points.

NLEX appeared to have the game under control in the first half, which ended with the Road Warriors on top, 58-49. But the Beermen turned the game around in the third quarter as Fajardo punished his defenders with a series of attacks inside the paint.

The game took an ugly turn with less than five minutes left when NLEX big man Michael Miranda got thrown out for kicking SMB’s Chris Ross. Later, Ross was likewise ejected after sparring verbally with NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.

Sensational rookie Kiefer Ravena once again showed the way for NLEX, leading his team with 15 points, six assists, and three rebounds. Alex Mallari, JR Quiñahan, and Raul Soyud added 12 points each. However, NLEX balanced scoring meant nothing in the end as the Road Warriors absorbed their three loss in five games.

GlobalPort 101, Blackwater 76

The GlobalPort Batang Pier pounced on a weary Blackwater Elite to hack out a whopping 25-point victory, 101-76, for their second straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup.

The Batang Pier broke the game wide open as early as the second quarter and led by as much as 31 points in the final period before coasting to victory. GlobalPort thus improved to a 2-2 win-loss record in the standings.

Blackwater absorbed a second straight loss and third overall in five games. Fatigue appeared to have taken its toll on the Elite as they played their third game in seven days. They also missed the services of Allein Maliksi, one of their top gunners, who had to fly Australia on an unexplained “previous commitment.” Without Maliksi, the Elite could not click offensively as they suffered their worst loss of the conference.

The Batang Pier also played without their biggest weapon, Terrence Romeo, who is still recuperating from a knee surgery. But GlobalPort showed it has enough firepower even without Romeo as Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle carried the scoring load for the team. Anthony led the Batang Pier with 22 points, including 6-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc. The resurgent Fil-Canadian forward also collected seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals in over 32 minutes of play.

Pringle had his usual high numbers of 17 markers, 11 boards, and five assists in 32 minutes. Kelly Nabong also scored in double digits, finishing with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists in 27 minutes.

GlobalPort limited Blackwater to a dismal 33.3 percent shooting from the field.

Mac Belo and Mike DiGregorio led Blackwater with 17 and 15 points, respectively, while Poy Erram added eight points, seven rebounds, and seven blocks in a losing effort.

Games on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018: Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (2-2) vs. Kia Picanto (0-4) and Magnolia Hotshots (3-1) vs. Phoenix Fuel Masters (2-2)