The San Miguel Beermen hardly needed the presence of June Mar Fajardo yesterday and cruised to a 109-80 rout of the Mahindra Floodbuster that extended their unbeaten start to four games in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Alex Cabagnot set the stage for a relaxed afternoon of basketball, firing 16 of his 26 points in the first quarter while import Charles Rhodes made good on his promise to show more highlight reel dunks with a second quarter slam that delighted the good-sized audience.
Marcio Lassiter then erupted for 12 of his 18 points in the third, making those through four three-point shot, as San Miguel led by a high of 34 points on its way to the most-lopsided win of the midseason conference.
It was also the first time that San Miguel ever beat Mahindra in an import-laced conference. Prior to the game, the Beermen were 0-4 against the Kia/Mahindra franchise in both the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup tournaments since the latter’s pro entry in 2014.
Coach Leo Austria gave his players the leeway to treat the game like it was a recreational meet, but was pleased that they performed like a well-oiled machine.
“I told them na ‘Just focus on what we’re doing in practice, pwede kayong magtawanan, pwede kayong mag-enjoy. But ’yung sistema natin, itakbo natin.’ And that’s what happened,” Austria said.
Fajardo was held scoreless for the first time since his rookie season when he failed to score in a March 2013 Commissioner’s Cup game against Air21. But then, the three-time reigning Most Valuable Player played just eight minutes and spent the whole second half enjoying the proceedings.
Austria said the lopsided contest allowed them to rest Fajardo, who usually logs heavy minutes even as he participates in Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for next month’s SEABA Championship.
“Alam naman natin na in the past few conferences, talagang bugbog na bugbog siya. In this game, nagkaroon siya ng opportunity na makapagpahinga,” said Austria.
SAN MIGUEL 109 – Cabagnot 26, Rhodes 20, Lassiter 18, Espinas 12, McCarthy 7, Reyes 6, Tubid 6, Santos 4, Van Opstal 4, Ross 2, Heruela 2, Agovida 2, Fajardo 0, Semerad 0, De Ocampo 0.
MAHINDRA 80 – Wright 16, Celda 13, David 13, Corpuz 10, Revilla 7, Yee 7, Deutchman 6, Salva 4, Guevarra 2, Caperal 2, Paniamogan 0, Galanza 0, Teng 0, Ballesteros 0.
Quarters: 32-16; 55-31; 86-59; 109-80.