PBA: San Miguel fends off Magnolia to earn share of lead

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2023 06:48 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2023 07:57 PM

The San Miguel Beermen improved to 4-0 in the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup. PBA Images.
The San Miguel Beermen improved to 4-0 in the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The San Miguel Beermen forced a three-way tie for first place in the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup after holding on for a pulsating 100-98 win over the Magnolia Hotshots, Sunday evening at the Araneta Coliseum. 

The Beermen squandered a 12-point third quarter lead and nearly lost all of a 10-point advantage in the fourth period as well, but did just enough on defense in the final ten seconds to secure the victory.

Six players scored in double-digits for San Miguel, with import Cameron Clark putting up 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. June Mar Fajardo also had a double-double, with 16 points and 10 boards; Marcio Lassiter earned Player of the Game honors after scoring making six of his 10 triples en route to 18 points.

"Our defense leads to our offense," SMB coach Jorge Gallent said of the key to their win. "We struggled with our offense in the first half because we weren't playing defense … We have to play as a unit for us to progress offensively." 

San Miguel is now tied with Converge and NLEX at the top of the league standings, with all three teams having 4-0 win-loss records.

The Hotshots have yet to break into the win column, dropping to 0-3 in the season-ending conference.

After trailing 51-47 at the half, the Beermen turned things around in the third period where they out-scored Magnolia, 32-19, to enter the final frame with a relatively comfortable 79-70 lead.

Their advantage stretched to 10 points, 85-75, when CJ Perez threw down a slam dunk in transition with under nine minutes to go. But Jio Jalalon immediately answered with a three-pointer, as the Hotshots refused to go away easily. They had a perfect opportunity to tie the game with under four minutes to go when Jericho Cruz committed a turnover, but Paul Lee bricked a layup in open court. 

On the other end, Lassiter knocked down a huge three-pointer to keep Magnolia at bay, and San Miguel pushed the lead to nine points when Clark scored off a putback, 100-91, with 1:18 to go.

The Hotshots made a last rally when Mark Barroca drilled a three-pointer, and they forced San Miguel into a 24-second violation in their next possession. That led to Calvin Abueva scoring in transition in their next possession to make it a four-point game, 100-96.

Magnolia again forced a stop in the next possession, with Jio Jalalon poaching the ball from Fajardo that led to another Abueva layup. With San Miguel clinging to a 100-98 lead, the Hotshots sent Perez to the line -- where he proceeded to miss two free throws with 10.2 seconds to go.

Fortunately for San Miguel, Lee's last-second three-pointer was way off mark as time expired, and they escaped with the slim win. 

"All the coaches were emphasizing that we gotta play better defense. We knew the second half was going to come down to that -- getting a lot of stops. Credit to our team for the defense tonight," said Lassiter after the game.

Lee led the Hotshots with 19 points, while Jalalon had 17 points, seven rebounds, six steals, and five assists. Magnolia scored 27 points off the Beermen's 21 turnovers in the contest.

But they got little from their import, Erik McCree, who had just 13 points and eight rebounds. He shot just 4-of-18 from the field, including just one of 10 from long distance.

The Scores:

SAN MIGUEL 100 – Clark 19, Lassiter 18, Perez 17, Fajardo 16, Cruz 13, Enciso 12, Brondial 3, Manuel 2, Bulanadi 0

MAGNOLIA 98 – Lee 19, Jalalon 17, Mccree 13, Barroca 13, Abueva 11, Escoto 9, Laput 9, Dela Rosa 4, Wong 3, Reavis 0, Corpuz 0

QUARTERS: 26-29, 47-51, 79-70, 100-98.