June Mar returns as SMB raps NLEX

By Nelson Beltran

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June Mar Fajardo. File

Game today (Legazpi City)

5 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Alaska

MANILA, Philippines - June Mar Fajardo, fresh from his stint with the Gilas Pilipinas which won the SEABA title, powered San Miguel Beer over NLEX, 114-108, to bolster its drive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The Beermen drew another tremendous lift from Charles Rhodes and Fajardo as they enhanced their bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals with 6-1 win-loss record.

NLEX, meanwhile, remained in chase of an elusive first win with only two games left in the mid-season tourney.

Fajardo collected 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks, helping the Beermen bounce back from a loss to the TNT KaTropa Texters last May 5. The Cebuano behemoth was then serving duty to Gilas already.

“I’m saluting June Mar, he showed his professionalism. Even as he played hard in SEABA, he opted not to rest. And we really need him as this is a virtual must-win game for us,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

Duke Crews became the driving force in his PBA comeback and he found the local support he needed in the crunch as Rain or Shine stopped Barangay Ginebra, 118-112, later in the night.

Crews powered his way to 28 points and 22 rebounds, with Jay Washington and Celino Cruz providing huge backup at endgame as the Elasto Painters notched their fifth win in nine outings at the expense of a Ginebra team which was  unbeaten in its last five outings.

Ginebra dropped to fifth place at 5-2.

Rhodes and backcourt players Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross churned out double-double numbers with Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos contributing double-digit outputs.

Rhodes delivered 37 points and 19 rebounds, Ross piled up 15 markers, 11 assists and seven boards while Cabagnot logged in 12 points and 10 dish-offs.

Brian Heruela, JayR Reyes, Keith Agovida and Gabby Espinas played backup roles with Ronald Tubid, Yancy de Ocampo and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser out on account of injuries.

Alex Mallari and JR Quinahan finally played their first game with the Road Warriors but not Larry Fonacier who’s set to under a procedure on his left ankle. He’s joining NLEX already by the third conference.

Meanwhile, Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario also rejoin their team fresh from their Gilas stint as TNT KaTropa tangles with Alaska Milk in a crucial Petron Blaze Saturday Special at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi, Albay.

The Texters are going all out against the Aces as they’re determined to also stay in the battle for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarters. The Aces, on the other hand, are out to finally formalize a quarterfinal entry after thee failed tries.

The Aces dropped their last three games against Meralco, Phoenix and Ginebra after a 4-0 start in the tourney with wins over GlobalPort, Blackwater, Mahindra and Rain or Shine.

The Texters have also taken a slide in losing two of their last three outings. They hope to regain lost ground with the help of new import Joshua Smith, a huge player who played college ball with the UCLA and Georgetown.

The scores:

First Game

SAN MIGUEL 114 – Rhodes 37, Ross 15, Santos 13, Cabagnot 12, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Espinas 8, Heruela 5, Reyes 0, Agovida 0.

NLEX 108 – Chism 22, Al-Hussaini 18, Quiñahan 12, Lastimosa 12, Mallari 11, Tiongson 10, Alas 9, Rios 7, Baracael 5, Soyud 2, Taulava 0, Ighalo 0.

Quarterscores: 36-22, 60-43, 89-73, 114-108

Second Game

RAIN OR SHINE 118 – Crews 28, Cruz 19, Washington 16, Yap 15, Ponferada 11, Cahn 8, Tiu 6, Belga 6, Trollano 6, Ahanmisi 2, Norwood 1, Tolomia 0, Matias 0.

GINEBRA 112 – Brownlee 38, Devance 19, Aguilar 15, Thompson 10, Ellis 9, Ferrer 6, Caguioa 6, Mercado 5, Tenorio 4.

Quarterscores: 24-31, 56-59, 83-93, 118-112

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