SMB opens PBA Season 43 with win over Phoenix

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

December 18, 2017, 9:26 am

MANILA -- San Miguel began the 2018 season of the PBA with a 104-96 win over Phoenix at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday night.

The Beermen broke loose in the dying stages of the game to spoil Louie Alas' debut as Fuel Masters coach.

Marcio Lassiter caught fire early on with back-to-back triples that helped SMB open an 8-0 lead at the start.

Phoenix, however, recovered following an early timeout, and the game became tight for most of the first half.

The Beermen tried to pull away again early into the second half, opening an 83-68 cushion with 10:40 to go in the fourth quarter.

The Fuel Masters, however, answered with a 12-2 run to cut the lead down to five, 85-80, with 6:28 left in the game.

SMB finally repulsed Phoenix on an 18-4 rally that stretched the lead back to 19, 103-84, with 2:41 remaining, which the latter found hard to recover.

Junemar Fajardo led the Beermen, who are eyeing a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup title, with 23 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks, while Alex Cabagnot added 22 points, two rebounds, four assists, and one steal.

Lassiter finished with 20 markers, five boards, and four dimes, while Chris Ross came close to a triple-double with 16 points, nine assists, and six caroms.

Arwind Santos had his own double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds with two assists, three steals, and one block.

Jeff Chan fired 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting off the bench to lead Phoenix.

LA Revilla struggled in his first game as a Fuel Master, only making one point, three rebounds, and three assists in 26 minutes of play off the bench.

Jason Perkins flirted with a double-double in his PBA debut, tallying 10 markers and nine boards with two assists and one steal in a start.

Box Scores:

San Miguel 104 - Fajardo 23, Cabagnot 22, Lassiter 20, Ross 16, Santos 14, Pessumal 5, Rosser 4, Heruela 0, Mamaril 0, Vigil 0, Agovida 0, Lanete 0, Mabulac 0

Phoenix 96 - Chan 18, Wright 12, Alolino 11, Chua 11, Wilson 11, Perkins 10, Dehesa 8, Kramer 6, Jazul 4, Intal 2, Eriobu 2, Revilla 1

Quarterscores: 23-18, 47-37, 79-68, 104-96 (PNA)