Beermen draw first blood in finals
With forecasts of more downpour and flash floods last night, San Miguel Beer was probably in a hurry to get the job done and be home early.
Still, the Beermen were ridiculously fast getting out of the Mall of Asia Arena.
Slicing through the Alaska Aces’ vaunted pressure defense like knife on butter, the Beermen turned the opener of their grudge rematch into a slumber party, 108-78, completely dominating Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals and putting an early damper at thoughts of revenge and payback in the long aftermath of a championship series two conferences ago.
Game 2 is tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Aces having 48 hours to figure out what went horribly wrong when it mattered most after a brilliant run in the elimination round, playoffs and the semis.
Simply masterful on the first game of the best-of-7 championship series, SMB allayed fears the playoff struggle it went through to survive would leave it drained, racing out of the gate early and never looking back, burying the Aces under waves of offense until the final second when an Arwind Santos layup made it a 30-point lead.
All five SMB starters scored in double figures, with Arizona Reid pouring 32 points in 39:48 minutes with 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Junemar Fajardo was unstoppable with 18 points and 17 rebounds, Santos had 15 along with Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Lutz 12. Marcio Lassiter added 9 coming off the bench.
“Hindi ko alam kung anong nangyari. We expected a hard game,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, apparently not wanting to give anything away. “But it’s just Game One and we have to be ready because Alaska will surely be back.”
“No stats for being outcoached,” said Aces mentor Alex Compton. “We gotta get better. This is what was afraid of when we had a break. I thought we lost our flow.”
SMB ruled the boards, 55-44, and shot 45 percent to Alaska’s 35 percent. No Aces player had 12 points after the hilariously low 14 of Romeo Travis.
SMB took the half, 54-41, behind a scorching first quarter where the Beermen led by as many as 19 points after shooting 11 of 21 while holding the Aces to 9 of 22.
An 18-4 run highlighted by 3-point shots from Chris Lutz, Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot broke the first half open as the Beermen roared to a 31-12 lead on a 3-point play by Cabagnot, 9 minutes into the game.
Alaska wrapped up the first 12 minutes with a 10-4 run on consecutive 3-pointers by Dondon Hontiveros, coming off the bench, but damage has been done. Romeo Travis, the Aces import, was limited to 1 of 5 from the field and finished the first half with just two points.
Cabagnot had 10 in the first quarter and Lutz 9 points.
If they were rusty from the five-day rest after sweeping defending champion Star in the semifinals, the Aces shook off the lethargy in the second quarter with Calvin Abueva firing up the offense with his frenetic play and Jayvee Casio draining a 3-pointer to cut the deficit, 46-37.
Then the Aces committed two major lapses and paid the price.
Twice leaving Santos wide open atop the keyhole, where he drained the game-winner against Alaska in Game 7 of the Philippine Cup finals early this year, the reedy SMB forward swished in back-to-back 3s stopping the Aces comeback on its tracks.
Reid, the SMB import, only had 4 points in the first 12 minutes while defending the taller Travis. But he came alive with 8 in the second period, posting up Abueva or using his quick first step to release short jumpers off the glass.
Alaska missed 7 of its first 9 shots and trailed, 11-4, before Sonny Thoss and Cyrus Baguio hit their first back-to-back baskets. By then the Beermen were 5 of 9 from the floor and the Aces 4 of 12.
SAN MIGUEL 108 – Reid 32, Fajardo 18, Cabagnot 15, Santos 15, Lutz 12, Lassiter 9, Ross 2, Fortuna 2, Semerad 2, Tubid 1, Reyes 0, Espinas 0.
ALASKA 78 – Travis 14, Thoss 12, Abueva 11, Hontiveros 11, Manuel 8, Casio 5, Banchero 4, Baguio 4, Menk 3, Dela Rosa 2, Exciminiano 2, Jazul 2.
Quarters: 35-22, 54-41, 77-65, 108-78