Defending champion San Miguel Beer thwarted a furious fight-back by Meralco to escape with a 103-97 victory at Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Wednesday night and nab a share of the lead in the early goings of the PBA Philippine Cup.
Alex Cabagnot fired 29 points to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists, while June Mar Fajardo added 26 points and 9 boards for the Beermen’s second straight win.
After trailing the Beermen at the half 59-41 and by as many as 22 points, the Bolts went hot in the third quarter, closing the gap to 72-71 on Reynel Hugnata's 3-pointer.
But Cabagnot, Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter managed to keep San Miguel afloat to maintain an 81-73 gap going to the final period.
"They think they were playing well in the first half, they thought they will have an easy ride going to the last minute of the fourth quarter," San Miguel coach Leo Austria said, describing his team's performance.
"It's a good lesson for us, that if you're up against a very coachable team, you cannot rest until the final buzzer sounds."
Successive baskets by Ken Bono and Niño Canaleta had Meralco threatening again, 85-80, but they wouldn't close the gap further.
Tolomia led Meralco (1-1) with 21 points, while Canaleta and Reynel Hugnatan had 17 and 16 respectively.
San Miguel 103 - Cabagnot 29, Fajardo 26, Lassiter 18, Pessumal 11, Ross 9, Santos 8, Mamaril 9, Lanete 0, Heruela 0, Rosser 0.
Meralco 97 - Tolomia 21, Canaleta 17, Hugnatan 16, Newsome 13, Lanete 10, Bono 8, Amer 7, Baracael 2, Ballesteros 2, Caram 1, Faundo 0, Sedurifa 0, Salva 0.
Quarters: 30-18, 59-41, 81-73, 103-97
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.