Perez, Fajardo provides SMB one-two punch to regain semis lead vs Meralco

CJ Perez and June Mar Fajardo provided a deadly one-two punch as San Miguel Beer grinded out a 96-91 victory over Meralco to regain the semis lead, 2-1, in Game 3 of their best-of-seven semifinals series in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, Aug. 7.

June Mar Fajardo (PBA Images)

Fajardo finished what Perez had started, dropping 15 of his 21 points in the second half as the Beermen led for the majority of the contest although they had to survive some anxious moments from the Bolts who continued to threaten even in the waning moments of the game.

The 6-foot-10 behemoth also hauled down 16 rebounds while Perez set the tone offensively for the Beermen after scoring 17 points in the first half to finish with 26 points.

SMB, however, just couldn’t shake off Meralco which once again leaned on its balanced scoring from the trio of Aaron Black, Allein Maliksi and Chris Newsome.

“Talagang napakahirap against Meralco, they know what to do in the post, they know what to do in pick-and-roll. They don’t want to be left behind by more than five, luckily nakakuha kami ng double-digit but sandali lang iyon. Nakakabalik agad sila eh,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria.

The Beermen actually erected a 10-point lead early in the final frame, 83-73, but was quickly erased by a layup from Black and a triple from Maliksi. The Beermen though pounded the ball inside to Fajardo who scored 10 of SMB’s 25 fourth quarter points to keep Meralco at bay.

Newsome led the way for the Bolts with 16 points while Black and Maliksi added 15 apiece.