The NLEX Road Warriors shook up their roster before the SEABA break, wanting to rescue their 2017 Commissioner’s Cup campaign. In their first game after a series of moves, the San Miguel Beermen reminded the Road Warriors that they still have a long way to go before they could compete with the league leaders with a relatively easy 114-108 victory.
The Beermen torched the net from the three-point range as they quickly pounced on the slow starting Road Warriors.
SMB took a 23-20 lead at the 3:56 mark of the opening quarter thanks to a triple from Chris Ross and they would not relinquish the advantage for the rest of the ball game.
Charles Rhodes helped the Beermen finish the first period with a 13-2 run, which gave them a 36-22 lead after the first 12 minutes.
Things did not get much better for the Road Warriors as Arwind Santos came off the bench and scored 10 points in the second period to give the Beermen a 60-43 lead.
At the half, SMB had 10 three-point shots and their offense looked great because of a combined 14 first half assists from Ross and Alex Cabagnot.
SMB had another big quarter in the third as they extended their lead to its biggest at 24 points, 89-65, after a huge dunk coming from the high-flying Charles Rhodes. The Beermen took their foot off the gas pedal in the fourth period, knowing that they had the win in the bag and this allowed the Road Warriors to make the final score more respectable, losing by just 6 points.
Ross was named the Best Player of the Game with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, and 4 steals.
“We just wanted to get back on track. We lost our last game and we had a long break. We looked sluggish at the end but I think we played well,” Ross said. “We knew this game was a trap game because we are taking on the team at the bottom of the standings and then Ginebra on Sunday so we really wanted to start the game well.”
Rhodes had a monster game for SMB with 37points and 19 rebounds while Santos had 13 off the bench. The Beermen showed their balance as Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and June Mar Fajardo all scored 12 points in the contest.
Wayne Chism bounced back from two sub-par games as he finished with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. Rabeh Al-Hussaini continued the revival of his career with NLEX as he had 18 points and 7 rebounds in the game.
The win gave the Beermen the top spot in the standings with their 6-1 record while also officially booking their ticket to the playoffs. NLEX, on the other end, is the first team to be eliminated in the conference as they have dropped all of their 9 games.
SAN MIGUEL 114 – Rhodes 37, Ross 15, Santos 13, Cabagnot 12, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Espinas 8, Heruela 5, Reyes 0, Agovida 0.
NLEX 108 – Chism 22, Al-Hussaini 18, Quinahan 12, Lastimosa 12, Mallari 11, Tiongson 10, Alas 9, Rios 7, Baracael 5, Soyud 2, Taulava 0, Ighalo 0.
Quarters: 36-22, 60-43, 89-73, 114-108.
– The NLEX debut of Larry Fonacier will have to wait for four more weeks as he is set to undergo an operation to address bone spur issues on his left ankle.
– Jonas Villanueva also was not in uniform for the Road Warriors with the same injury.
– SMB also had players on sick bay as Ronald Tubid, Yancy De Ocampo, and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser did not suit up for them.
– New NLEX players Alex Mallari and JR Quinahan both had decent outings against the Beermen. Mallari had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists while Quinahan had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in his reunion with coach Yeng Guiao.
SMB – May 21 vs. Barangay Ginebra Kings at the MOA Arena
NLEX – May 24 vs. Alaska Aces at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum