December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Strong start pushes Beermen to 4-0 card

A STRONG opening quarter was all the San Miguel Beermen needed to put the game out of the reach of the Mahindra Floodbuster to cruise to a 109-80 victory yesterday, their fourth in as many games in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup.

The Beermen (4-0) exploded midway in the first quarter of their curtain-raiser at the Cuneta Astrodome and practically sailed to the victory thereafter to remain unblemished in the mid-season PBA tournament and pace the league in the standings.

Mahindra ran alongside San Miguel in the first six minutes of the contest but found itself hard-pressed to keep in step as the quarter progressed to see the Beermen claim the frame, 32-16.

San Miguel continued to take it to its opponent in the second quarter behind guard Alex Cabagnot and import Charles Rhodes, who outplayed his counterpart Keith Wright, and help their team to a 55-31 lead by the halftime break.

In the third period, the Floodbuster tried to narrow their deficit, managing to cut the Beermen’s lead to 19 points, 64-45, in the first five minutes of the quarter.

San Miguel, however, would once again go on a tear, with Marcio Lassiter waxing hot from beyond the arc and building further on their lead at the end of the canto, 86-59.

With the game already in the bag, San Miguel decided to rest their starters and allowed its bench, including seldom-used rookie Arnold Van Opstal, to get some playing time. But it still showed no letup as it completed the rout.

Mr. Cabagnot showed the way for San Miguel with 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes on the floor while Mr. Rhodes had 20 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

Mr. Lassiter had 18 markers, going six-of 10 from three-point territory, while Gabby Espinas had 12 points.

San Miguel’s three-time league most valuable player June Mar Fajardo was scoreless in eight minutes of play as the team opted to rest him for the entire second half. It marked the first time that Gilas Pilipinas big man was left scoreless in the PBA since 2013.

Mahindra, which dropped to 1-6, for its part, was led by Mr. Wright with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Veteran Gary David and rookie Jackson Corpuz added 13 and 10 points, respectively.

“We know our games [in the conference] are going to be in succession so we do not want to build any bad habits. We just going to try and build on our game and hopefully we do not hit our ceiling yet,” said Mr. Cabagnot, named player of the game, in the postmatch interview as he explained the go-getting mentality they showed in the match.

Incidentally, Mahindra coach and Senator Manny Pacquiao was present during the game and gave a pep talk to his team at halftime, but it proved not enough to push his team to the win.

The Beermen next play the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Saturday while the Floodbuster return to action on Sunday against the GlobalPort Batang Pier.