In a dominant showing, June Mar Fajardo once again proved his worth to San Miguel as he helped the team secure a 102-99 victory against Barangay Ginebra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday night, February 17.
Fajardo’s performance was crucial in securing a two-way tie for the first seed with TNT (7-1) as he registered a double-double of 12 points and 18 rebounds, while also contributing three steals and a block.
His play in the paint limited the Gin Kings to just 17 second-chance points and helped the Beermen guard the Gin Kings to a 44 percent field goal shooting clip and 32 percent from deep.
San Miguel import Cameron Clark also put up a stellar performance, hitting 35 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists while CJ Perez added 20.
The Beermen also received solid performances from Vic Manuel, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Jericho Cruz, and Simon Enciso, who combined for crucial buckets.
Clark, however, cited Fajardo’s efforts in their victory.
“It all starts with June Mar. He’s a six-time MVP so he’s a big focal point. When we got him going, it opened up a lot of shooters,” Clark said. “They were playing him tough in the beginning and then he got it going in the second half.”
Although Ginebra fought hard to come back from an 11-point deficit in the last two minutes, they ultimately fell short. With 8.8 seconds left on the clock and the score at 99-102, they had a chance to tie the game, but Nards Pinto missed two three-point tries.
However, San Miguel had built a sufficient lead that allowed them to withstand the Gin Kings’ furious charge.
Fajardo was also a major factor in the game, opening up opportunities for other players to take shots.
Beermen coach Jorge Gallent lauded the Kings’ resilience, saying, “Ginebra’s a tough never-say-die team. As I told the boys, for us to beat them, we have to play 48 minutes and not let them a chance taking advantage of our lapses.”
With their seventh win, the Beermen have secured a spot in the quarterfinals along with the TNT Tropang Giga.
Both teams will be looking to continue their winning ways in pursuit of a top-four finish and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, the Beermen will face off against an opponent at the PhilSports Arena, while the Gin Kings will take on the Blackwater Bossing in the 4:30 p.m.
Despite a strong performance from Christian Standhardinger, who scored 29 points and secured 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Kings, the team was unable to contain Clark’s scoring and ultimately fell to their second consecutive defeat after losing to Magnolia in their previous game.
The Kings dropped to 3-2.
Brownlee was held down to just 21 points on an 8-of-18 shooting clip.
Ginebra will have a chance to bounce back on Sunday when they face the Blackwater Bossing in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser.
SAN MIGUEL 102 – Clark 35, Perez 20, Fajardo 12, Manuel 10, Lassiter 8, Enciso 6, Cruz 5, Brondial 4, Ross 2, Tautuaa 0.
GINEBRA 99 – Standhardinger 29, Brownlee 21, Gray 14, Thompson 13, Malonzo 9, Pringle 6, Pinto 6, Mariano 1, Tenorio 0.