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Beermen burst from gates, rip Tropang Giga run to shreds; Hotshots cool Road Warriors win spree

Chris Ross San Miguel

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Chris Ross San Miguel

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Starting out hot and never letting up, San Miguel Beer on Wednesday did what six other teams in the PBA Philippine Cup couldn’t do: Beat TNT.

And it was some kind of a beating the Beermen dealt the Tropang Giga.

After yielding the first bucket of the game at Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, The Beermen scored 18 unanswered points and never looked back, posting an 83-67 win that shattered whatever myth of invincibility the Tropang Giga wore into the match as San Miguel primed itself up for the second half of the elimination round and the playoff position drive.

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“This was a big game for us,” San Miguel’s Leo Austria said after his charges rebounded from a shock loss to Terrafirma last week. “We wanted our energy back in this game because we were playing a contender in TNT. I’m just thankful for the players because the sense of urgency was there.”

Marcio Lassiter scored 19 points, Terrence Romeo chipped in with 16 and Mo Tautuaa and CJ Perez came off the bench to shoot 13 each as the Beermen made do with June Mar Fajardo’s quiet eight points mainly because they got more than enough in exchange with his 17 rebounds.

It was the fourth win in six games for the Beermen, the all-Filipino dynasty of the last decade who are itching to reclaim their old crown with Fajardo back and their bench deeper than it was when they started a five-year reign.

San Miguel led by as many as 27 points as the Tropang Giga couldn’t flaunt the form that gave them six straight wins to open up the elimination round, with coach Chot Reyes getting only two players from his starting unit to finish in twin digits. Reserve guard Kib Montalbo led TNT scoring with 13.

Solo lead

Despite losing for the first time in seven games, TNT remained in the solo lead but saw some distance trimmed from its closest pursuer Magnolia, which rose to 6-2 earlier after coming back from 16 points down in the fourth period to pull out a 112-105 double overtime victory over a stunned NLEX side.

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“I’m very proud of my guys because they worked very hard for this,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who pulled an ace up his sleeve by fielding in seldom-used sophomore Aris Dionisio, who hit the second overtime-forging triple with 2.4 seconds left.

The Hotshots held the Road Warriors to a single point in the second extension to doom NLEX to just its first loss in three games since the reboot and to 4-3 overall.

Calvin Abueva scored 23 points that went with 12 boards, team-highs in both departments, even though he wasn’t on the floor in extra time after fouling out in regulation. Ian Sangalang had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Hotshots, who came into the game still licking the wounds of a close loss to Meralco last week.

NorthPort, meanwhile, sees action for the first time in Pampanga when the Batang Pier battle listless Blackwater in the 4:35 p.m. contest.

Terrafirma will be looking to win a fourth straight game, clashing with Phoenix Super LPG in the 2 p.m. contest as jockeying for playoff positions start to reach fever pitch with just a handful of games left in the elimination round.

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The Batang Pier, who will be coached by team manager Bonnie Tan with head coach Pido Jarencio recovering from COVID-19, will be playing the most games from hereon as they have to catch up with their schedule after a long hiatus.

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