April 23, 2018, 8:08 am
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San Mig too strong for Phoenix

SAN Miguel Beer kicked off its title-retention bid by pummeling Phoenix 104-96 last night in the PBA Philippine Cup that got the league’s 43rd season going at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Starters Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and June Mar Fajardo did the most damage as the Beermen seized full control as early as the latter half of the opening quarter before easily cruising past the Fuel Masters.

Only nine points were scored by SMB’s bench with Fajardo notching 23 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and as many blocks and Santos also coming up with his own double-double of 14 and 12.

Ross, Lassiter and Cabagnot had at least 14 points for the Beermen, who led 79-62 in the third quarter and went into the final 2:36 with a 103-84 bulge.

A sparse opening day crowd was on hand to personally witness the game, but that did little in taking away the impressive fashion by which SMB scored the win, which SMB coach Leo Austria credited to his charges’ focus.

“For me, a first win is really hard, especially for us whom everybody was preparing hard for,” said Austria.

“Ipinakita nila na we can defend the title,” added Austria, whose team next faces Meralco on Dec. 27.

For Phoenix, which underwent massive retooling following a 12-24 win-loss record and finishing 10th overall last season, it was a rude reminder that more work still has to be done.

Jeff Chan had 18 points and paced the Fuel Masters who also drew at least 10 points from five other players, including the 10 markers and nine boards from No. 4 pick overall Jason Perkins.
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