San Miguel Beer passed its first real test against Magnolia, escaping with a 100-98 victory to remain unscathed in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 5.
The Beermen flaunted their all-around plays, clamping down on the Hotshots in the final possession to come through with the nail-biting win and the share of the early lead.
Showing a balanced attack with six players scoring in twin digits, SMB improved to a 4-0 record to tie with league leaders NLEX and Converge.
Cameron Clark exploded with a double-double performance of 19 points and 10 rebounds, Marcio Lassiter rifled in 18 points on a 6-of-10 shooting from the three-point territory.
June Mar Fajardo also added a double-double effort of 16 points and 10 boards, while Jericho Cruz and Simon Enciso chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
CJ Perez also made a good account of himself with 17 points, although he botched the two crucial free throws with 10 seconds left, allowing the Hotshots to retain the possession and get a chance of stealing the ball game at the buzzer.
Already without a timeout while trailing 100-98, the Hotshots ran to their frontcourt but had a hard time executing against the Beermen’s scrambling defense.
Paul Lee pulled up a well-challenged buzzer-beating triple in an attempt to save the day for Magnolia, but the ball barely hit the rim.
The Beermen actually went off to a sizzling 16-4 start before the Hotshots retaliated with their own blazing run to grab the lead at the end of the opening frame, 29-26.
Magnolia kept SMB on the rear in the ensuing quarter before the Beermen unleashed a 32-point third-quarter flurry to steal the lead with a 90-79 cushion.
The Hotshots ,though, refused to go down without a fight as they uncorked a 7-0 spurt to trim their deficit to 100-91 in the crunch behind a trey from Mark Barocca and back-to-back layups from Calvin Abueva, but it proved to be their last stand.
Lee finished with 19 points even as Jio Jalalon had 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals in a losing effort for Magnolia. Import Eric McCree continued to struggle with 13 points on a poor 4-of-18 clip from the field, including a horrendous 1-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.