by Waylon Galvez
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Meralco vs Air21
5:15 p.m. – Ginebra vs Talk ’N Text
San Miguel Beer survived a berserk Josh Dollard in the Petron Blaze Saturday Special yesterday, hanging on to subdue tenacious Barako Bull, 106-100, and fuel its bid for a twice-to-beat playoff incentive in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen kept solo third behind Talk ‘N Text and San Mig Super Coffee with a 4-1 record and second straight win but went through a nightmarish afternoon before putting this one away.
Dollard, a man possessed, was on fire in the second half and torched SMB with every imaginable shot from every imaginable distance, yelling and beating his chest with every three-point shot basket, including one which he made just before he crashed to the floor, as the E-Colas tracked down the Beermen in the third quarter.
Not even a bloody cut above his right eye courtesy of Ronald Tubid halfway in the second period could slow Dollard down upon his return after the halftime break as he took on the Beermen – at one instance four of them during a low post play – and towed back Barako Bull from a double-digit deficit.
But the supreme effort took its toll and SMB’s Kevin Jones, 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and reigning MVP Arwind Santos eventually reeled in the E-Colas who fell to 1-4 just a rung above winless 10th placer Globalport.
Dollard, who had 46 points for his third 40-plus game and 15 rebounds, was a spent force in the end, leaving his teammates to keep up the fight which they did until a non-call went against them in the last five minutes and SMB up, 95- 93, on a Marcio Lassiter 3-pointer.
Fajardo, putting pressure on Barako point guard Denok Miranda near the midcourt corner, came down hard on the former Far Eastern U playmaker, knocking him down as he lost the ball.
With no whistles blown, Fajardo drove home for a breakaway slam and Barako came no closer than three points from there. Jones led SMB with 28 points and 18 rebounds while Lassiter added 19 (5 triples) and Santos 16, including an offensive rebound basket that made it 99-93.
Fajardo, who had 11 rebounds along with Santos in a fierce battle with Mick Pennisi (4 triples) and Dorian Pena, had 15 points and Paolo Hubalde 13 with a couple of clutch 3-pointers.
“Barako Bull is a good team and we knew it’s gonna be a hard game,” said SMB consultant Todd Purves. “I have a lot of respect for that team and I’m not surprised they made a run at us. But I’m pleased we got the win.”
SMB’s Sol Mercado was slapped a Flagrant 1 foul with 7 minutes left at the height of a nip-and-tuck exchange after video footage showed he bloodied the nose of Carlo Lastimosa with a kick in the face as the Barako Bull rookie was about to take a three-point shot in front of the E-Colas bench.
Mercado had jumped to contest the shot and appeared to have extended his left foot as he sailed by the head-faking nephew of PBA great Jojo Lastimosa.
Meanwhile, solo leader Talk ‘N Text, with Richard Howell, stakes its unbeaten slate today when it guns for No. 6 against 4th-running Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Leon Rodgers at 5:15 p.m.
In the curtainraiser, Meralco, behind 6-foot-11 Brian Butch, and debuting import Wesley Witherspoon and Air21, tied with Ginebra on 2-2 win-loss cards, clash at 5:15 p.m.
The Texters are coming off a 91-68 rout of the Bolts, while the Kings needed a strong finish to turn back Evan Brock and winless Globalport, 113-107, last Friday. (Tito S. Talao)
San Mig Coffee 91, RoS 74
In the main game, San Mig Coffee stayed perfect after handily defeating the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 91-74.
SAN MIGUEL BEER 106 – Jones 28, Lasasiter 19, Santos 16, Fajardo 15, Hubalde 13, Mercado 7, Ross 3, Kramer 2, Maierhofer 0, Tubid 0.
BARAKO BULL 100 – Dollard 46, Pennisi 16, Fortuna 11, Buenafe 11, Wilson 6, Lastimosa 4, Isip 2, Pena 2, Miranda 2, Jensen 0, Miller 0, Marcelo 0, Intal 0.
Quarters: 29-19; 51-43; 81-74; 106-100.