Santos hits game winner as San Miguel survives Barako Bull’s hot shooting
June Mar Fajardo came up with a monster performance, but it was Arwind Santos who came up with the game-winning play as San Miguel Beer nipped Barako 106-105 Sunday to reclaim the solo lead in the 2016 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Santos’ putback gave him 15 points for the game and provided what would prove to be the marginal point with still six-tenths of a second left, dimming the hopes of a Barako crew which put up a gallant stand for practically the entire match.
The real celebration for the Beermen came, however, after former teammate Jeric Fortuna’s desperate heave from way beyond the arc went too long as the defending champions formally realized their fifth win in six games.
Still, SMB coach Leo Austria was far from satisfied after his team’s shaky follow up to its more comfortable 100-82 win over Ginebra last Sunday, notwithstanding Fajardo’s game highs of 28 points and 20 rebounds.
“I hope this game gives us a lesson. Every team dito kailangan pag-ukulan ng tamang panahon, respeto,” said Austria.
Barako was looking for a third straight win that would have jacked its record to 4-2 and tied it with SMB.
Josh Urbiztondo had 19 points and Willy Wilson 18 points and 11 rebounds in leading the Energy who valiantly tried. But in the end they still fell from a tie for fourth into seventh-running spot.
Barako sure did give SMB one big scare, though, even leading by as many as 58-50 in the third quarter and matching pace with the Beermen until the last 10 seconds, when RR Garcia capped a 14-point game with a step back triple that gave the Energy a 105-104 edge.
“From the start I saw the body language of Barako, na ganado sila and our team naman, parang kampanteng kampante kami,” related Austria.
“Pero a one-point win is still a win. Tatanggapin ko ng buong puso ito.”
Even Santos making the game-winning play was enough to make Austria beam, considering the circumstances. “Happy to see Arwind making that winning shot,” said the coach. “But Arwind is not healthy because nag-ta-tighten ang calf and thigh niya.”
Santos merely played true to form, especially after teammate Marcio Lassiter let go of a jumper that was too long. The former MVP beat Wilson and Rodney Brondial for the loose ball and immediately put up the shot that trickled in.
A glimpse of the close ending came after SMB emerged on top of a free throw shooting contest in the third canto to claw back within 76-80 and set up the seesawing finish.
Urbiztondo came into the contest averaging just 8.70 points per game but exploded for 17 of his points in the second period, helping Barako overcome an early 10-point deficit and surge ahead 55-48 at the half.
In that spree that lasted just over nine minutes, Urbiztondo missed just one of six three-point tries and seemed to have lit the fire from under the rest of the Energy.
Brondial, Mick Pennisi, Wilson and JC Intal did their part as Barako made 12-of-23 field goal attempts, including 9-for-14 from beyond the arc, in fighting its way back from an 18-28 count.
Earlier, it was Lassiter who waxed hot as he also came off the bench to highlight a 12-0 surge that lifted SMB from a 16-18 deficit and into its 10-point spread. (NC)
SAN MIGUEL 106 – Fajardo 28, Tubid 16, Santos 15, Cabagnot 12, Espinas 11, Lassiter 11, Lutz 4, Ross 3, Arana 2, De Ocampo 2, Heruela 2, Reyes 0.
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