By JAY R. GOTERA
MANILA — The San Miguel Beermen showed devastating form, bringing back to earth the upstart Blackwater Elite with a 118-93 victory Friday night as the PBA Philippine Cup held its first games for 2017 after a holiday break.
It was SMB’s fifth straight win and sixth overall against just one loss, allowing the Beermen to clinch the first quarterfinals berth as they a firmer grip of the top spot.
The two-time defending champions started hot, never allowing the Elite to mount any serious rally.
SMB’s June Mar Fajardo dominated the game with 28 points, eight boards, and five assists in just 28 minutes. Gabby Espinas added 22 markers.
With his face mask made in time, the injured Alex Cabagnot was given the green light to play, contributing 14 points for the Beermen, the same output made by teammate Marcio Lassiter.
The Beermen raced to a 37-21 lead after the first quarter, pulling away by as much as 29 points early in the third quarter.
SMB’s tight defense foiled Blackwater’s rookie sensation Mac Belo, who was held to just four points.
Art dela Cruz paced the Elite with 16 points, nine boards, and three steals. Raymond Aguilar added 15 points, including 10 in the final quarter.
GlobalPort 97, Meralco 89
Bouncing back from a disappointing loss in their last game, the GlobalPort Batang Pier beat the Meralco Bolts, 97-89.
The win snapped the Batang Pier’s two-game losing streak as they improved to a 4-3 mark, tying Phoenix at fourth to fifth spot.
The skidding Bolts suffered a fourth straight loss to fall to solo 10th place with a 2-5 card.
Terrence Romeo led GlobalPort with 27 points, 12 of them scored in the final quarter. The leading PBA scorer also had five boards, five assists, and one steal in 38 minutes.
Big man JR Quinahan showed more agility after starting a no-carbs diet, contributing 11 points for GlobalPort, four of them scored in the last two minutes that gave his team a 95-87 lead, virtually sealing the victory.
KG Canaleta added 13 markers while Billy Mamaril and Mike Cortez chipped in 12 apiece.
Reynel Hugnatan paced Meralco with 23 points and five rebounds in 34 minutes. Jonathan Grey added 18 markers, Chris Newsome had 16 while Cliff Hodge and rookie Ed Daquioag chipped in 12 points each.
Game Saturday: NLEX Road Warriors vs. TNT KaTropa Texters.