SMB sends Meralco crashing back to earth with dominant Game 1 win

Published August 3, 2022, 8:19 PM

by Reynald I. Magallon

San Miguel Beer sent Meralco crashing back to earth with a dominant 121-97 victory to gain a headstart in their best-of-seven semifinals showdown in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, Aug 3.

Rodney Brondial (PBA Images)

The Bolts, still riding the euphoria after eliminating the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the quarterfinals, were given a harsh reality check from the Beermen behind the solid performances of CJ Perez and Rodney Brondial.

Perez started the game like a house on fire, dropping 10 of his 25 points right on the first quarter alone while Brondial took the spotlight from his more seasoned frontline partners June Mar Fajardo, Vic Manuel and Mo Tautuaa after contributing a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds.

SMB head coach Leo Austria revealed that he was surprised with the showing of the team considering their history agains Meralco which had their numbers in their last two playoff meetings.

“Talagang nasurprise kami sa performance ng mga player kasi talagang kapag Meralco maraming beses kami pinahiya nila, during the bubble, twice-to-beat kami, tinalo kami and then last conference, quarterfinals na-eliminate kami sa kanila,” said Austria.

“It’s very important for us to win the first game especially in a series whatever series yan best-of-three, best-of-five, or best-of seven. Winning first game helps a lot sa pagbigay confidence,” he added.

Manuel also showed flashes of his old, efficient form finishing with 16 points in just 17 minutes of play while Fajardo added 11 points.

The Beermen unleashed a blistering 11-0 run to end the opening frame which also proved to be the telling run as they managed to take care of the lead and keep the Bolts at bay despite the repeated efforts to cut the lead and threaten SMB.

Chris Banchero led the way for the Bolts with 17 points while Raymond Almazan added 16. Noticeably missing in action for Meralco however were the trio of Chris Newsome, Aaron Black and Allein Maliksi who only mustered a combined output of 19 points.