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Beermen off to winning start
Terrence Romeo

Beermen off to winning start

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer proved it’s still a potent brew despite the absence of injured superstar June Mar Fajardo.

Adjusting to life without the newly minted six-time MVP, the Beermen kicked off their title-retention bid in the PBA Philippine Cup in style, dismantling contender Magnolia, 94-78, last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Big man Mo Tautuaa, thrust into the limelight after Fajardo was sidelined by a fractured shin, lived up to the challenge and banged in a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds plus two blocks.

Terrence Romeo fired 19 and issued seven assists in a rare start while veteran Arwind Santos also posted twin figures in scoring (18) and rebounding (15), and Marcio Lassiter, wearing a face mask to protect a broken nose, rifled in 17 with two dimes as SMB survived its first outing minus “The Kraken.”

“I commend the team, everybody stepped up. Motivated sila, na-inspire kay June Mar who inspite of the situation came here and gave his support,” said SMB coach Leo Austria of Fajardo, who used a mobility scooter to receive the MVP award earlier and sat on the SMB bench in the first 24 minutes.

Paul Lee (with 19 markers) led the Hotshots, the 2018 and 2019 Philippine Cup runners-up who are tipped to be among the leading contenders for the PBA’s crown jewel.

Pre-season trade acquisition Jackson Corpuz made a solid debut (16-13) as Season 44 Mythical Second Team member Ian Sangalang dished out 16-10.

With Fajardo cheering them on, the Beermen stormed to a 45-32 upper hand after detonating a 13-3 salvo to end the second canto.

Picking up momentum, the Beermen opened the third with a 15-4 blast anchored on three triples from Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot to widen the gap, 60-37.

Notes: The PBA has tabled a special board meeting on Tuesday to look at numerous options to take in the face of the COVID-19 threat. “Lahat ng options ilalatag ko sa board – (suspension of games for) one week, two weeks, one month or closed door or cancellation. Lahat ng option papakita ko sa kanila at epekto nito sa PBA,” said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.

SAN MIGUEL BEER
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