Photo by Tristan Tamayo / INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines – A San Miguel Beer team without June Mar Fajardo was still too spicy for Magnolia.
Five Mo Tautuaa-led players delivered double-digit results when beermen beat Hotshots 94-78 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup 2020.
Tautuaa was previously recognized as the best player at the Leo Awards and ended with 21 points and 11 rebounds when the beers opened their offer for a sixth consecutive All Filipino crown in style.
The 6-foot-10 fajardo, which previously received its sixth prize for the most valuable player in a row, is out of a shin fracture that could force him to miss the entire season.
"I'm happy and I'm surprised at how we played," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
"We still have a lot of things to fix and cannot be complacent."
Fajardo was on hand to watch the first half of the game, with the Beermen leading 7-0.
With Terrence Romeo, who carried out the offensive, San Miguel extended his advantage to 23 points, only so that Magnolia could pull 54-61 late in the third period within seven.
Romeo, together with Tautuua and Arwind Santos, cleaned up the hot shots in the last quarter.
"The spirit of June Mar inspired us," said Austria. “Just because he was here it helped the players. On the other hand, this is a big win for us, especially to strengthen our trust. "
Romeo finished with 19 points and seven assists, while Santos played 43 minutes and scored 19 points and 15 rebounds. Marcio Lassiter also scored 17 points while Alex Cabagnot scored 10 points.
"My players are very proud and know how to win," said Austria. "Even without June Mar we have a very motivated team."
The hotshots, who had lost to the Beermen by a single point in Game 7 of last year's final, briefly led in the first half, 11-10. Paul Lee led Magnolia with 19 points, but also had five sales. Jackson Corpuz, which was acquired in a low-season deal with Columbian Dyip, impressed with his Magnolia debut with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
But Magnolia shot only 38 percent off the ground and made only six triples, six less than the beer.
San Miguel 94 – Tautuaa 20, Romeo 19, Santos 18, Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 10, Ross 4, Escoto 3, Zamar 3, Pessumal 0, Gamalinda 0, Comboy 0.
Magnolia 78 – Lee 19, Sangalang 16, Corpuz 16, Jalalon 8, Barroca 8, Simon 4, Dela Rosa 3, Melton 3, Banchero 1, Pascual 0.
Quarter: 18-18, 45-33, 69-56, 94-78.
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