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Beermen stay unbeaten after scary escape over Gin Kings

San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo charges against the swarming defense of Barangay Ginebra during their PBA Philippine Cup encounter on Friday. (Joey Mendoza)

Defending champion San Miguel Beer weathered a furious late fightback by Barangay Ginenbra San Miguel to essay a 95–92 escape and remain unscathed in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Jericho Cruz drained a crucial layup in the last 44 seconds to halt the Gin Kings’ rally that had them breathing down the necks of the Beermen by just two after trailing by 18 early in the fourth quarter.

San Miguel kept its perfect record intact at 4-0 on top of the standings but not after a scare when it saw its 84-66 lead cut down to 93-91 after Maverick Ahanmisi drilled a three-pointer with 1:07 left.

“I just said we just have to play good defense in the end. We had to stop them in the last three to two minutes,” a relieved San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent.

“We were making hurried shots again when we were up by 18 and then they took advantage of that when we were missing our layups, they were running and they made big three-point shots in transition. In case we miss we just have to do a better job sprinting back and defending.”

CJ Perez posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists to lead the Beermen.

Don Trollano, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, displayed great composure when the Ginebra was making a run as he hit a jumper followed by a long bomb to give San Miguel Beer a 93-86 lead with 2:44 left.

After Ahanmisi made his trey Cruz drove hard to the basket to give the Beermen a little more breathing room.

Ginebra failed to convert in its next possession before Ahanmisi split his charities for the final count.

June Mar Fajardo had 14 points and 10 boards while Terrence Romeo got 11 for San Miguel Beer.

Ginebra outscored the Beermen in the fourth quarter, 26-13, and even made a huge 11-0 run to close the gap, 77-84, with 8:09 left in the game before Fajardo stopped San Miguel Beer’s bleeding.

Japeth Aguilar had 17 points, Ahanmisi finished with 16 points and 10 boards while Stanley Pringle got 15 in Ginebra’s second loss in five starts.

Jamie Malonzo scored 14 and Christian Standhardinger posted 14 markers and 17 rebounds.


Box scores:

SAN MIGUEL (95) –– Perez 18, Trollano 15, Fajardo 14, Tautuaa 12, Romeo 11, Brondial 8, Cruz 8, Lassiter 6, Ross 3, Manuel 0, Enciso 0

GINEBRA (92) –– J.Aguilar 17, Ahanmisi 16, Pringle 15, Malonzo 14, Standhardinger 14, Tenorio 8, Onwubere 8, David 0, Gumaru 0, Cu 0, Pinto 0

Quarters: 33-18, 56-50, 82-66, 95-92

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