San Miguel Beer scraped past TNT, 97-91, Wednesday night in a heated game that saw several dustups and trash talk between two rivals.
Reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo made his presence felt on both ends of the floor with 27 points, six rebounds and five blocks for the Beermen, who improved to 2-0 in the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup.
“I don’t know how we won this game because we were very tentative at the start of the game,” SMB head coach Leo Austria told reporters at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
There was hype heading into the game being that it was the two teams’ first meeting since Game 6 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals where the Beermen won their fifth championship in three seasons.
Austria, however, downplayed the finals rematch with the duel happening early in the conference.
“This is not a barometer whether you’re a strong team or not. This is just the start of the conference,” he said.
But the players knew differently. The intensity was high and the physicality was above normal that resulted to the likes of Beermen’s Chris Ross and engaging in sporadic commotions with KaTropa’s Michael Craig, Roger Pogoy, Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo.
The Beermen leaned on Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter in the fourth quarter, where they extended a one-point lead to 14, 93-79, late.
Fajardo scored 12 in the final frame while Lassiter unleashed 10 of his 16 points in the period.
Wendell McKines added 22 points and nine rebounds for San Miguel, which had 20 more free throw attempts than TNT.
The KaTropa, who blew and early 10-point lead, went to the line just eight times while the Beermen went 19-of-28 from the line.
Craig struggled mightily going 8-of-25 from the field and scoring just 16 points with six turnovers. He did, however, grabbed 18 rebounds and had three steals.