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PBA: SMB survives Floodbuster

Games Wednesday
(Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – NLEX vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Meralco vs Alaska

Mahindra was a minute away from extending an unusual dominance over defending champion San Miguel to three conferences when the Floodbuster made the mistake of sending two steady-handed Beermen to the foul line.

Arwind Santos hit three free throws and Alex Cabagnot two in the closing seconds as San Miguel rallied from a double-digit deficit to thwart Mahindra, 94-91, last night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Santos had 18 points and Cabagnot 15 behind the 28 of June Mar Fajardo, whose free throws with 56 seconds left gave SMB an 89-88 lead.

Santos also grabbed 8 rebounds to move to 14th in the all-time list with at least 3,000 rebounds while his 6 blocked shots, more impressively, put him at 10th overall.

SMB improved to 3-1 in completing its second straight come-from-behind win, while handing winless Mahindra its fourth straight loss.

“This is a good lesson for us that we cannot underestimate any team,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria.

“We’re lucky nanalo pa rin kami dito. Next time, we cannot afford to have a game like this.”

Austria said he had pointed out to his players before the game that Mahindra has beaten them in the last two conferences of the previous season – both import-laced.

Apparently, the information wasn’t properly heeded.

A dominion of the Beermen these past two seasons, the Philippine Cup nearly saw the unthinkable – SMB losing to Mahindra in the All-Filipino Cup.

Bannered by rookie Russel Escoto and former Star Hotshot Alex Mallari, the Floodbuster opened a 24-11 spread late in the first quarter. They were even ahead, 71-66, heading to the last 12 minutes as another rookie, ex-Mapua Cardinal Joseph Eriobu had 11 of his 17 points.

But Fajardo and Santos refused to add to their woes against Mahindra last season with 14 points combined in the final frame.

Mallari, who had 9 in the fourth quarter, back-ironed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

SMB 94 – Fajardo 28, Santos 18, Cabagnot 15, Tubid 10, Garcia 9, Lassiter 8, Ross 4, Espinas 2, Agovida 0, Reyes 0, McCarthy 0, De Ocampo 0

MAHINDRA 91 – Mallari 21, Eriobu 17, Revilla 15, Escoto 10, Yee 8, Ballesteros 5, Digregorio 3, Guevarra 3, Teng 3, Paniamogan 2, Salva 2, Arana 2, Celda 0, Webb 0

Quarters: 26-15; 47-49; 71-66; 94-91.