San Miguel Beermen starts defending Philippine Cup Title, torches Star Hotshots

The reigning Philippine Cup champs is back to its winning ways as they manhandled the Star Hotshots.

San Miguel lead most of the ballgame but found themselves in a nine-point hole before climbing back with a 15-0 run to prevail in the end.

The Beermen made the first basket courtesy of June Mar Fajardo’s quick two followed by Arwind Santos’ six straight points to start the opening quarter with an 8-0 blast. Off the time out, the Star Hotshots tried to end the dry spell via a Mark Barroca’s jumper and a three, and afterwards found Ian Sangalang for an easy basket to make their own 7-2 run.

Pingris and Fajardo trade baskets while Beermen guard Alex Cabagnot gets his first triple of the game to make his team up by six points, 15-9. But the Chito Victolero-led team easily erased the deficit and even led by a point after drilling a shot by PJ Simon who came off the bench. Since then, the teams traded baskets in the first quarter ended by rookie Jio Jalalon’s short jumper, 26-25 San Miguel lead.

Maliksi and Jalalon tied the game for Star at 28-all but the reigning Philippine Cup champs relied on one of their strength as they caught fire on the second canto. Ronald Tubid connected from the downtown to score six straight points followed by Cabagnot’s own trey that made their team ahead, 37-31. Former NCAA star Jio Jalalon and Barroca also joined the trey party as they drilled their own to trim down the deficit, 39-43. But the SMB maintained the lead to end the half leading by eight points, 51-43. Cabagnot and Fajardo combined for 25 points while Barroca lead the scoring for the Star followed by Jalalon and Ping, both with 7 points. Opening game jitters, maybe, the Hotshots had 17 turnovers in the first half alone, new Star players, Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon with 5 and 3 respectively.

In the third quarter the Star Hotshots rallied back from eight points down when they lighted it up from deep. Mark Barroca hit his third triple of the game to start the rally. Paul Lee got the motivation that he needed as he tallied 10 points in the third quarter alone. Melton and Maliksi also contributed two triples each in the third to make Star ahead by 4 points, 79-75.

PJ Simon collected five points early in the payoff period to get his team ahead, 86-77. However, the offense clicked again for the Beermen as they had 15 unanswered points spearheaded by Cabagnot and Fajardo to lead by as much as six points, 92-86. Maliksi ended the drought for Star to make it 88-92 but the Leo Austria-coached team did not look back to snatch their first win of the season, 96-88.

The three-time MVP proved to be unstoppable as he did it on both ends of the floor, registering 25 points, 16 rebs, and 2 blocks in the game, while The Crunchman Alex Cabagnot gather 22 points and dished out 8 assists, enough to get them the best player of the game honors.

SAN MIGUEL 96 – Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 22, Santos 17, Lassiter 11, Ross 7, Tubid 6, Espinas 5, Reyes 3, Garcia 1, Agovida 0.

STAR 88 – Barroca 13, Lee 12, Jalalon 11, Maliksi 10, Simon 9, Sangalang 8, Pingris 7, Ramos 6, Melton 6, Reavis 2, Pascual 2, Brondial 2.

Quarters: 26-24, 51-43, 75-79, 96-88

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