The San Miguel Beermen kept their quarterfinals hopes alive after scoring a 128-108 blowout victory over the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Chris McCullough scored 37 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while June Mar Fajardo added 22 points and 14 boards for the Beermen, who never trailed in the game en route to their second straight win.
SMB played with a sense of urgency and stormed out of the gates for a 30-21 start in the first quarter. They kept piling on the pressure behind McCullough and Christian Standhardinger, who scored 21 of the team's 31 second quarter points, to take a 61-45 lead at the break.
In the third, it was Fajardo's turn to conspire with McCullough. Both scored 12 apiece in a 36-point period that all but chalked up the win for SMB.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria was impressed by the play of McCullough, who followed up his impressive debut with a +25 showing in just 32 minutes of play.
"I'm happy to have him. He really helped us a lot. It's very obvious that his teammates adapted to his kind of game. We adjusted to him. The good thing with him is he knows how the team plays and he's very confident that he could help the team a lot," he said.
Alex Cabagnot also added 16 points, three rebounds and four assists for San Miguel, which improved to 4-5. The Beermen still have to win their next two games against Rain or Shine and Meralco to stay in contention for the top five or six seed.
"This win is a welcome development for us," said Austria. "This win was really badly needed by the team. We hope we could sustain the intensity and the kind of defense we displayed in the first three quarters against Phoenix."
"We still have to work hard for our next game, and that is very crucial for us to get to the playoffs. At least our goal to get to the best-of-three is still achievable," he added.
Meanwhile, Phoenix slid to 4-6 and will have to win its final game on Friday to have a shot at staying in the top eight.
Richard Howell led the team with 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two rebounds, but he sat out the fourth quarter. Matthew Wright and Rey Guevarra chipped in 14 apiece.
San Miguel 128 - McCullough 37, Fajardo 22, Cabagnot 16, Romeo 13, Standhardinger 10, Pessumal 8, Lassiter 6, Santos 5, Lanete 3, Nabong 3, Ross 3, Zamar 2.
Phoenix 108 - Howell 15, Wright 14, Guevarra 14, Chua 12, Jazul 12, Mallari 10, Intal 8, Perkins 7, Marcelo 5, Napoles 5, Kramer 4, Gamboa 2, Wilson 0, Dennison 0.
Quarters: 30-21, 61-45, 97-70, 128-108.
Alex Cabagnot is now 7th all-time in assists after passing Ronnie Magsanoc (3,228 dimes) with his first assist tonight. He finished with four dimes. It won't take long for Cabagnot to move to 6th as Willie Generalao is just 25 assists away (3,256).
Kelly Nabong was ejected with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter. He was first called for a flagrant 1 foul after a hard foul on Phoenix rookie Jorey Napoles before being slapped with a technical foul for continuously protesting the call.
After scoring just six points in his return to the lineup last game against NLEX, Terrence Romeo looked more comfortable and was more efficient tonight. He put up 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting, and had three rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes off the bench. He twisted his pinkie in the fourth quarter, but Austria assured that he'll be ready for the next game.
Phoenix coach Louie Alas said that import Richard Howell will have his right knee examined. Howell was hit in the third quarter and sat out the rest of the game. A physical therapist performed a quick test and cleared him from any major injuries, but Alas said they'll still have it checked for the team's "peace of mind."
San Miguel vs. Rain or Shine, July 13 in Cagayan de Oro.
Phoenix vs. NLEX, July 12 at the Cuneta Astrodome.