DAVAO CITY—Even with a recent bout with plantar fasciitis, Junmar Fajardo showed up as his dominant self, leading San Miguel Beer to an auspicious season debut versus Globalport here Saturday night.
Fajardo powered his way to 21 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks as the Beermen walloped the Batang Pier, 97-86, in the Petron Blaze PBA on Tour kickoff game at the USEP Gym here.
Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Gabby Espinas also churned out sparkling games as the Beermen spoiled the first game together of exciting guards Stanley Pringle, Joseph Yeo, Terrence Romeo, Jonathan Uyloan and Roi Sumang.
The Beermen put up a solid game together, underscoring readiness to make another title run in a follow-up to their double-championship last season.
“We know everybody is after us. They all want to beat us, and we really have to be always ready and focused,” said coach Leo Austria, recipient of the Baby Dalupan Trophy as Coach of the Year winner last campaign.
“Globalport prepared early. It just so happened that we also prepared well. It’s a great game for us,” Austria also said.
Shaking off a sluggish start, the Beermen seized control in the second quarter and stayed in command throughout the final half.
Espinas scored all of his 10 points in the second quarter and Fajardo started to assert himself in the same period as SMB erased a 20-26 deficit and surged ahead, 49-37, at the turn.
Santos, Cabagnot and Lassiter joined the prey in the second half, and the Beermen led by as many as 19 at 79-60.
Cabagnot finished with 19 points while Santos, Lassiter and Espinas contributed at least 10 points each.
Pringle and Keith Jensen paced the Batting Pier with 20 and 16 markers, respectively.
Jensen, sustaining a cut on the right brow early on, provided instant firepower in his return to the floor in the fourth quarter, and the Batang Pier came back to life, narrowing a 19-point deficit to 10 at 72-82.
But Fajardo, Cabagnot and Chris Lutz put in clutch baskets enabling the Beermen to keep a safe lead all the way to the finish.
SAN MIGUEL 97 – Fajardo 21, Cabagnot 19, Santos 11, Lassiter 10, Espinas 10, Lutz 9, Reyes 4, Arana 3, De Ocampo 3, Heruela 3, Ross 2, Tubid 2.
GLOBALPORT 86 – Pringle 20, Jensen 16, Yeo 13, Kramer 10, Maierhofer 6, Romeo 5, Uyloan 5, Washington 5, Mamaril 4, Taha 2, Paniamogan 0, Pena 0, Sumang 0.
Quarters: 20-26, 49-37, 71-58, 97-87.