By JONAS TERRADO
San Miguel Beer thwarted the threat of a Rain or Shine in the second half to secure a 104-100 win and gain a share of fourth in the PBA Governors’ Cup Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Shabazz Muhammad tallied 31 points, 21 rebounds and six assists in his second game since replacing Orlando Johnson as the Beermen tied the Alaska Aces at 6-4 to boost their chances of securing a top four finish and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.
Vic Manuel scored half of his 18 points in the fourth quarter amid the ROS rally led by Rey Nambatac and Beau Belga that allowed SMB to bounce back from a 104-87 loss to Magnolia Pambansang Manok last Sunday.
Coach Leo Austria was glad to see the team perform to his expectations, but knows that SMB will be hard-pressed in its quest for a twice-to-beat bonus with Meralco next on the schedule this Saturday.
“From the start, we knew that it’s gonna be hard getting a win against this team because we knew Rain or Shine was also looking for a win,” said Austria.
Rain or Shine lost for the fourth straight time, dropping to 3-7 and in danger of missing the quarterfinals.
Belga’s 19 points, Nambatac’s 17 and import Henry Walker’s team-high 23 went for naught as the Elasto Painters fell short after trailing 45-26 in the second quarter.
SMB was ahead 65-47 on Muhammad’s dunk early in the third before ROS slowly made its way back and trailed 76-72 at the end of the period.
The Elasto Painters got to within two behind Nambatac multiple times, the last off two free throws that cut the Beermen’s score to 100-98.
But Manuel responded with a jumper, 29 seconds left for a four-point gap. Javee Mocon knocked down two freethrows on the ensuing possession but Muhammad sealed the deal with a pair of charities for the final count.
SAN MIGUEL 104 — Muhammad 33, Manuel 18, Romeo 17, Fajardo 14, Perez 11, Tautuaa 8, Cruz 3, Brondial 0, Ross 0, Lassiter 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 100 — Walker 23, Belga 19, Nambatac 17, Ponferada 15, Mocon 10, Asistio 9, Norwood 3, Nieto 2, Torres 2, Tolentino 0, Jackson 0, Borboran 0, Santillan 0.
Quarters: 33-21, 58-44, 76-72, 104-100.