San Miguel Beer continued its good run of form amid the import situation after taking down Phoenix Super LPG, 104-99, Wednesday, Feb, 23 in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Orlando Johnson, whose fate is likely in limbo following the arrival of Shabazz Muhammad, had 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks to help SMB win a hard-fought contest with Phoenix despite leading for much of the second half.
Vic Manuel scored 22 points at the expense of his former team despite frequent verbal exchanges with Fuel Masters import Dominique Sutton as the Beermen tied the Alaska Aces for fourth place at 5-3.
It was SMB’s second straight win and five in the last six outings after a 0-2 start in the season-ending conference.
Coach Leo Austria, however, has described the campaign like a “roller coaster” despite gaining an inside track of finishing in the top four.
“So far, so good naman because we’re so excited going into the resumption of the conference because we’re playing well during practice and everyone’s stepping up,” said Austria.
“And you can see in their body language na they are determined to play good basketball,” he added.
That comes despite in the process of finally deciding on sticking with Johnson for at least another game or finally insert Muhammad.
Johnson did put up another strong showing despite the air of uncertainty as the Beermen kept their lead despite multiple attempts by the Fuel Masters to turn things around.
Manuel also made the majority of his points in the second half, scoring nine in the third and eight in the final period.
Matthew Wright scored 24 points for Phoenix but missed two free throws with 53 seconds left which could have reduced SMB’s lead to 99-96 and turn the contest into a one possession game.
Sutton dropped 20 points while grabbing nine rebounds in the loss which sent Phoenix to a second straight loss and an even 4-4 record for sixth spot.
SAN MIGUEL 104 — Johnson 23, Manuel 22, Lassiter 18, Fajardo 13, Perez 9, Romeo 7, Ross 7, Tautuaa 3, Enciso 2, Brondial 0.
PHOENIX 99 — Wright 24, Sutton 20, Perkins 20, Jazul 9, Chua 8, Garcia 6, Robles 4, Pascual 4, Manganti 2, Demusis 2, Rios 0.
Quarters: 25-30, 49-47, 79-71, 104-99.