San Miguel Beer banked on an all-around showing from June Mar Fajardo in getting a 108-100 win over Phoenix Super LPG in the PBA Philippine Cup held Wednesday night, June 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fajardo put up 24 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, playing a key role in giving the Beermen a victory to start off their campaign in Season 47’s initial salvo.
Vic Manuel also scored 24 points, CJ Perez posted 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals, Chris Ross had 17 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists while Rodney Brondial added nine points and 13 rebounds.
The Beermen shook off a stubborn challenge by the Fuel Masters, who drew impressive debuts from rookies Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano.
But Fajardo made sure SMB wouldn't fall to an upset defeat, with Fajardo having a hand in pulling away from Phoenix.
“We are happy dahil I think this is the first time we have an offseason training, and we're able to address yung mga kinakailangan namin, especially yung chemistry. And nakita naman natin kanina na ginagawa nila,” said coach Leo Austria.
“But I think that's not enough, because it's a very close game from start to finish. I'm expecting na every game, it will be a hard game for us because kami yung team to beat na iniisip lagi nila pagdating ng All-Filipino.”
The six-time Most Valuable Player either scored underneath or set up passes that resulted in baskets as SMB led by seven on three separate occasions during the payoff period.
Ross’ layup off Fajardo’s assist gave the Beermen their largest lead at 100-91, time down to over two-and-a-half minutes.
Tio scored 17 points spiked by a perfect 5-of-5 clip from three-point land while Serrano registered 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench in an impressive showing by the two players selected by Phoenix in the second round.
Matthew Wright made 22 points with five assists but those numbers were not enough for the Fuel Masters.
Javee Mocon, acquired from Rain or Shine a day before the match, posted five points and seven rebounds in his Phoenix debut.
SAN MIGUEL 108 — Fajardo 24, Manuel 24, Perez 19, Ross 17, Brondial 9, Tautuaa 8, Lassiter 6, Pessumal 1, Enciso 0.
PHOENIX 100 — Wright 22, Tio 17, Serrano 15, Perkins 15, Jazul 9, Mocon 5, Lalata 5, Pascual 4, Melecio 3, Manganti 3, Muyang 2, Porter 0, Rios 0, Garcia 0.
Quarters: 23-25, 54-52, 83-77, 108-100.