San Miguel Beer clung onto second spot and enhanced its bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals as it fought back from an early 19-point deficit and repulsed Phoenix, 121-109, in the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
The Beermen waged a chase in the second quarter, seized control in the third and sustained the momentum in the final canto en route to the crucial victory that boosted their drive for a Top Two finish in the elimination round of the mid-season PBA 2016.
At 7-3, the Beermen automatically claim a Top Two windup and the coveted incentive in the quarters if they beat the Tropang TNT Texters (6-4) in the final game of the elims on Friday also at the Big Dome.
Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter all found their range in the third quarter, firing away huge treys to fuel a decisive surge that shifted the momentum in SMB’s favor.
The Fuel Masters failed to recover from their third-quarter slide and went down with a closing 3-8 win-loss record in their maiden conference in the pros.
Tyler Wilkerson spearheaded their chase from 6-25 down and went firing all the way to the very end to finish with 40 points that went with 19 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Kevinn Pinkney kept in step with Wilkerson stride for stride in the first half but slowed down in the final half.
The Fuel Masters got off to a jackrabbit start but tapered off in the second period, and settled for a 55-54 edge at halftime of the match featuring the debut of Gary David as a Beerman.
At 115-102 with less than two minutes left to play, David entered the floor. In his very first touch of the ball, David connected with a short jumper for his first basket in his new team.
The Beermen slowly chipped away at their early 19-point deficit and grabbed the lead at 50-49.
Pinkney scored on a pair of free throws and two short jumpers as against Gabby Espinas’ two charities and a twinner by Cabagnot as Phoenix regained the upper hand going into the final half.
The two imports both had had 19 points each by the half. Espinas backed Wilkerson with 10 while JC Intal was the next best scorer for Phoenix with eight.