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San Miguel Beer holds off Meralco’s late surge

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BEERMEN PREVAIL. The San Miguel Beermen foils Meralco’s late rally to eke out a 93-83 victory in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, on Sunday, November 19.

San Miguel Beer weathered a late rally by Meralco to secure a 93-83 victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, on Sunday, November 19. 

Ivan Aska played a crucial role, finishing the game with 27 points and 13 rebounds while providing excellent defense on Meralco’s Su Braimoh, preventing the latter from finding an offensive rhythm.

The Beermen, bouncing back from a tough 103-108 overtime loss to NLEX last Wednesday, improved their record to an even 1-1. Aska, who fouled out early in the previous game, showed determination and resilience this time.

“I just learned my lesson from the first game. It was my first time, so the players and the coaching staff got me ready for (this) game,” said Aska in a PBA report. “I told myself I have to stay in the game and just do what I do, play defense and offense.”

Beermen coach Jorge Gallent expressed satisfaction with Aska’s performance, emphasizing the team’s need for an inside presence, which Aska delivered in this game.

The loss halted Meralco’s promising 2-0 start to the season, despite a commendable 22-point, six-assist performance from Chris Newsome. 

Braimoh, who had been averaging 22 points, was limited to 15 points, shooting just 6-of-18 from the field.

June Mar Fajardo contributed significantly for San Miguel with 17 points and 15 rebounds, despite struggling from the free-throw line, going 9-of-17. Chris Ross added 10 points, and his timely contributions, including a crucial triple and two free throws, helped the Beermen secure the wire-to-wire win.

However, the victory came at a cost for San Miguel, as Terrence Romeo had to sit out the entire second half due to a right knee injury aggravation. Substitute Kyt Jimenez also left the game early in the fourth period after accidentally getting hit in the right eye by Cliff Hodge’s elbow.

Jimenez, who played a significant role in giving the Beermen a 51-30 lead in the second period, demonstrated the team’s depth. Despite threats of squandering a sizable lead, reminiscent of their previous game against NLEX, the Beermen stood strong, sealing the victory and showcasing their resilience in the face of adversity.

The boxscores:

San Miguel 93 – Aska 27, Fajardo 17, Perez 16, Ross 10, Romeo 9, Tautuaa 7, Enciso 5, Jiimenez 2, Bulanadi 0.

Meralco 83 – Newsome 22, Braimoh 15, Almazan 11, Hodge 10, Bates 6, Quinto 5, Dario 5, Caram 4, Rios 3, Jackson 2, Pasaol 0.

Quarters: 29-20, 55-43, 66-62, 93-83

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