MANILA, Philippines - The San Miguel Beermen used a strong start and a stronger finish to overwhelm Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers, 75-65, and zero in on the lead in the Asean Basketball League at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City last night.
Import Darlon Lamar Johnson fired a team-high 19 points while Jarrid Famous added 17 points as the Beermen nailed their ninth victory against three losses to remain among the league leaders.
"We're beginning to gel the way we want to, we're playing better now and the chemistry has been improving game after game," said San Miguel coach Bobby Parks Sr.
The AirAsia Patriots, toting an 8-2 (win-loss) slate, were playing the Saigon Heat in Vietnam at presstime.
After a string of double-digit performances, Leo Avenido slowed down this time, managing only nine points for San Miguel.
The Beermen also missed the services of veteran guard Aries Dimaunahan and Junjun Cabatu, who were suspended for one game for their involvement in a brawl during the Beermen-Patriots match won by San Miguel, 68-66, last March 4, also at the Ynares Arena.
RJ Rizada and Froilan Baguion took up the cudgels for the San Miguel locals with the former finishing with 11 points, one rebound, four assists and four steals. Baguion, on the other hand, made only four points but had game-highs of 10 assists and six steals.
"They were big when we needed them most because we're missing some players due to suspension," said Parks, referring to Rizada and Baguion.
The Slingers, led by Louis Graham’s 25 points and former AirAsia import Donald Little’s 18 points, fell to their eighth setback against four wins.
San Miguel roared to a fast start and built double-digit leads in the first quarter but slowed down in the second, allowing Jobstreet.com Singapore to inch closer, 31-28, at the break.
The Beermen, however, unleashed a series of runs to regain full control and take the starch out of the Slingers.