MANILA (UPDATED) - Arwind Santos nailed the go-ahead jumper with 1.2 seconds to go, and the San Miguel Beermen averted a huge collapse with a slim 88-86 triumph over the NorthPort Batang Pier, Sunday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Beermen squandered a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter but survived in the end game thanks to Santos' clutch shot. They improved to 2-1 in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, having won back-to-back games after losing their season opener against the Meralco Bolts.
Santos finished with 17 points and five rebounds, while Alex Cabagnot added 16 points and seven assists. CJ Perez led San Miguel in scoring with 18 points, on top of eight rebounds and five assists.
"The team really wanted to win, especially Arwind. Congrats to Arwind for your winning shot, and that's what I expect from him," said SMB coach Leo Austria after the game.
"The veterans stepped up tonight, that's why it's my pleasure to have them," he added.
But Santos was very nearly the goat, as he committed a flagrant foul one with seven seconds to go when he elbowed NorthPort's Sidney Onwubere while they were both on the floor, looking to gain control of the ball.
That gave NorthPort one free throw that Robert Bolick coolly converted, tying the game at 86.
In their final possession of the game, Marcio Lassiter drew the defense to him before dishing off to Santos, who drilled the jump shot from the free throw line that gave SMB the lead for good. NorthPort had one last chance and they worked the ball to an open Kevin Ferrer, but his three-pointer hit the side of the backboard as time expired.
Squandered in the loss was a 23-point, 17-rebound output from Greg Slaughter in his NorthPort debut. Bolick finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
"This is badly needed for us," said Austria of the win. "I'm happy that we snatched this game, because this can give us momentum going to the next three games."
San Miguel led 81-65 at the top of the fourth quarter off a June Mar Fajardo layup, but the Batang Pier steadily trimmed the deficit and came to within one point, 84-83, off a Slaughter bucket with under four minutes to go.
A Perez layup with two minutes left made it a three-point game, 86-83, but the Batang Pier threatened anew when Slaughter grabbed the offensive board off a Bolick miss and converted the bucket for an 86-85 count with 47 seconds to play.
The Beermen looked as though they would walk away with the win when Lassiter blocked a three-point attempt by Paolo Taha and they got the ball into the frontcourt. But they lost control of the ball, and Santos was caught landing an elbow on Onwubere as they struggled to gain possession.
San Miguel was able to execute after Bolick's technical free throw, however, sending NorthPort to its second loss.
Onwubere finished with 12 points and Jerrick Balanza added 11 markers, while rookie Jamie Malonzo was limited to 10 points.