By WAYLON GALVEZBIÑAN, LAGUNA – Elijah Millsap is back to complete an unfinished business.
San Miguel ‘returnee’ Millsap made a successful comeback last night as he powered the defending champion Beermen to a 107-101 victory over the Blackwater Elite in the final day of elimination in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Alonte Sports Center here.
Millsap, who replaced Michael Singletary, scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in his first game back after starring for the same franchise he nearly led to a title three years ago.
Former league MVP Arwind Santos finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, while reigning two-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, who was in his rookie season when Millsap played for the team, added 18 points and eight rebounds with two shot blocks.
The win gave SMB an 8-3 win-loss record at the end of the elimination round to take third place.
The team has a chance to move up to No. 2 in the quarterfinal playoff round if Barangay Ginebra San Miguel drops its final game versus TNT KaTropa, which is being played at press time.
A tie at 8-3 between SMB and Ginebra would give the Beermen the No. 2 spot due to the winner-over-the-other rule as San Miguel downed the popular team 111-105 last Aug. 14.
“It’s an unusual rotation of my men,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, who played 14 players in an effort to give different looks in running the offense and playing defense with Millsap on board after arriving last Thursday.
“I also want to give some time to players on the bench. I also told them to play with pride every time they’re inside,” added Austria, whose team will either face Alaska, NLEX or Phoenix in the next round – depending on the outcome of the remaining games.
San Miguel also got solid contributions from veteran guard Alex Cabagnot, who came off the bench to contribute 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field.
SAN MIGUEL 107 – Millsap 25, Santos 19, Fajardo 18, Cabagnot 17, Tubid 15, Lassiter 3, De Ocampo 2, Espinas 2, Reyes 2, Ross 2, Semerad 2, Abdeen 0, Arana 0, Heruela 0.
BLACKWATER 101 – Dela Cruz 23, King 18, Pinto 13, Miranda 12, Lastimosa 11, Pascual 10, Sumang 8, Gamalinda 2, Sena 2, Tiongson 2, Eguilos 0, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 32-20; 50-44; 78-75; 107-101
TNT KaTropa 104 – Ammons 24, Castro 19, Madanly 18, Fonacier 14, Reyes 9, De Ocampo 8, Rosario 6, Williams 4, Rosales 3, Rosser 0, Tautuaa 0.
GINEBRA 92 – Brownlee 34, Tenorio 21, Aguilar 11, Thompson 8, Marcelo 6, Devance 4, Mercado 4, Caguioa 2, Cruz 2, Helterbrand 0, Mariano 0.
Quarters: 20-18, 43-35, 78-66, 104-92