Beermen overhaul FBuster, keep lead

Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  Philippine Cup champ San Miguel Beer came out firing and never let up, spanking Mahindra and its returning coach Manny Pacquiao, 109-80, to notch a fourth win in a row in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome last night.

Jason Deutchman scored on a short stab to start the game then Charles Rhodes, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter answered with a rapid-fire assault to break the game wide open early and the Beermen went on to post the second most lopsided win in the tourney thus far.

Rhodes easily collected 20 points and 18 rebounds, Cabagnot rifled in four triples and a personal season best of 26 points while Lassiter drained six treys and a total of 18 markers as the Beermen stayed perfect from their all-Filipino title run while dealing the Floodbuster their sixth loss against a lone win.

“It’s in our mind that we can’t take this team for granted. They always beat us (in games in import-flavored tourneys),” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

“Still, I was surprised how they played the game and how they beat Mahindra,” added Austria.

The Beermen dominated the Floodbuster even on the reappearance of Pacquiao on the Mahindra bench and despite limited action of reigning PBA three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.

Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio established the rhythm after the halftime huddle, and Barangay Ginebra went on a tremendous third-quarter romp, rolling past NLEX, 101-92, to jack up its slate to 3-1 later in the night.

“At the half, coach Tim (Cone) pointed out we’re not playing our game but theirs. That’s the wakeup call. Our team responded,” said Tenorio who delivered the bulk of his stats in the third to lead their breakaway from a 47-48 count at the half.

The Cebuano behemoth went 0-of-4 from the field and committed one turnover in nine minutes of action in the first half. He ended up with his first scoreless outing in four years as coach Leo Austria took the luxury of playing his reserves in the second half.

Still, the Beermen completely outclassed the Floodbuster, fashioning out their biggest rout since a 101-72 demolition of the Barangay Ginebra Kings in Game Four of their 2016 PBA Governors Cup semifinal showdown.

Fajardo enjoyed a welcome rest ahead of their expected tough showdowns against Rain or Shine then TNT KaTropa.

Cabagnot and Rhodes set the tone of the game early as they erupted for 16 and 11 points, respectively, just in the opening quarter.

Coming off a mere six-point game the last time out, Cabagnot sizzled with 7-of-10 clip just in the opening canto of this game. Rhodes, on the other hand, frolicked with a 5-of-6 shooting.

Ronald Tubid marked his return from a two-game suspension with two three-pointers, with the first one pushing SMB’s lead to 22 at 49-27 in the second quarter.

Then Lassiter took over in the third period, firing away four three-pointers to sustain their romp as the Beermen led by 27 at 86-59 going into the final canto.

For Floodbuster, it didn’t help that they missed top gun Alex Mallari due to back spasm.

Keith Wright led the losing team with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Beermen took the fight out of the Floodbuster early on a superb 52-percent shooting in the first half, going 23-of-44 from the two-point zone and 6-of-15 from beyond the arc.

They wound up with a remarkable 45-percent clip as against the Floodbuster’s 33-percent marksmanship.

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