Meralco Claims Number 1 Spot after Comeback Win
After back-to-back made baskets by Fajardo, Allen Durham another trey with under 6 minutes on the clock only to be answered by another basket by Fajardo. A pair of charities by Cliff Hodge brought Meralco within 2 with under 5 minutes to play.
After the Beermen increased their lead back to 9, Meralco charged back right away, just trailing 96-92 with under 3 minutes to go until Jared Dillinger drained another trey cut down the lead just to 1. After a Watson basket, Amer scored on another three-pointer to tie the game at 98 apiece with 1:24 to go. Durham gave Meralco its first taste of the lead on a driving lay-up against Fajardo with under a minute to play. Chris Ross answered right back with another trey to give the Beermen a 101-100 lead heading into the final 40 seconds. Durham scored on his own missed shot to put his team back up 102-101 with under 28 seconds remaining.
San Miguel still had one more chance to take the lead but Fajardo’s shot was heavily contested and Meralco was able to grab the ensuing rebound and call an all-important timeout with 4 seconds on the clock. Durham added two more free throws as San Miguel ran out of time on the other end.
While the starters of San Miguel produced their usual numbers, it was the bench scoring that allowed Meralco to mount a comeback and eventually, helped them win the game.
SMB Wins a close one against Phoenix
Here’s the thing, if the Beermen win this game, they will be tied with the NLEX Road Warriors for the 4th spot which will give them a chance to earn a twice-to-beat advantage. If they lose, they will be tied with the Rain o Shine Elasto Painters for the 5th spot. Either way, the Beermen will be tied with another team and if you are a team who is gunning for a rare grand slam, you would surely prefer to be fighting for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals, right?
While both teams struggled offensively, only shooting 37% in the field during the first half, the 2-pt field goal percentage of San Miguel proved to be the difference as they outperformed Phoenix 50% to 42% in that category during the entire game. Free throw shooting has also played an important part as well as total assists as the Beerman has proven again and again that they can beat any team if they are fluidly passing the ball around, looking for the best scoring option.
Both teams traded both made and missed baskets in the next few minutes of the 4th. The Fuel Master got as close as 2 points, at 98-96 with five minutes on Matthew Wright’s free throws. Then, on Brandon Brown’s free throws, the game was tied at 100 with under 3 minutes to go until the Beerman answered with 4 straight points to put their lead up by 4-points with under 2 minutes left.
The Fuel Masters still had one more chance to inch closer but Mathew Wright uncharacteristically air-balled a 3-pointer with under a minute left. To make things worse, Arwind Santos was able to tap the ball away from Brandon Brown then Fajardo was fouled and made both free throws. Jeff Chan later scores on a lay-up to cut the lead to 4, at 106-102 with 21 seconds to go in the game. Cabagnot made 1 of 2 free throws after winning a jump ball and then JC Intal nailed a trey with under 10 seconds only to for Cabagnot to make 2 more throws to ice the game with 6 seconds to go.
The Fuel Masters scored on another basket with 1 second remaining but that proved to be their last hurrah as the Beermen dribbled away the clock off a timeout.