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Beermen spill Painters for strong conference debut

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Beermen spill Painters for strong conference debut
San Miguel's Jericho Cruz (39) led the Beermen over the Elasto Painters.
PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- The San Miguel Beermen started off its PBA Philippine Cup title defense on a high note, blowing away the freefalling Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 109-97, Friday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

San Miguel, which won the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last month, erupted in the middle quarters as they did not look rusty at all in their All-Filipino conference debut.

The Beermen took a 24-22 first quarter lead into a 91-73 upper hand heading into the fourth quarter as Jericho Cruz, Terrence Romeo, Don Trollano and Marcio Lassiter heated up.

The lead ballooned to 19, 94-75, in the early minutes of the fourth quarter with an and-one play by Cruz.

The Elasto Painters were able to cut it to 11, 85-96, with a 10-2 run, but the Beermen relied on reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, who hit a layup and a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 16, 101-85, with about seven minutes remaining.

Romeo and Lassiter then hit daggers in the closing minutes to secure San Miguel’s victory.

Cruz led five Beermen in double digits with 20 points and four rebounds off the bench.

Lassiter added 17 points, while Trollano, Fajardo and Romeo had 16, 15 and 13 markers all off the bench.

Santi Santillan spearheaded Rain or Shine, finishing with a big double-double of 31 points and 14 rebounds, both career-highs.

Jhonard Clarito and Beau Belga chipped in 18 apiece.

Rain or Shine, which will be missing rookie big man Keith Datu indefinitely due to a right MCL sprain, dropped to its fourth straight loss of the tourney.

The Elasto Painters will be facing the Phoenix Fuel Masters next, while San Miguel will take on the TNT Tropang Giga in a PBA Philippine Cup rematch.

Both games will be on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

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