San Miguel shakes off awful start, avoids upset from Mahindra

By Patrick Sutare

QUEZON CITY--San Miguel had the advantage in almost every department going to the game against a winless Mahindra team, but they had to survive an ugly start before dealing the Flooduster with yet another defeat, 94-91, on Sunday's first match of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup.

Mahindra hit the ground running right off the bat while limiting the defending champs to just three field goals made for a 26-15 edge at the end of the first 12 minutes of play.

The Beermen, feeling a bit of pressure, instantly turned to Junemar Fajardo in the second canto, pounding the ball inside to let the three-time MVP dominate the paint against the helpless inside resistance of the Floodbuster.

SMB erupted for 32 points in the second frame to inch closer going to the break, 47-49.

Despite squandering an early distance, Mahindra kept in step with SMB's firepower in the second half, making timely buckets to thwart turning the game into a one-sided affair.

Now a designated gunner, Alex Mallari took the chance with 5.2 ticks left to send the game into overtime for Mahindra, but his attempt was off the mark as SMB escapes with the win.

Rookie Joseph Eriobu was a revelation for the struggling Mahindra squad despite the loss, providing spark when needed the most and was a pivotal help on the defensive end. He followed Mallari on his team's game scoring list with 17 as the former Star Hotshots guard had 21.

It was just another day in the office, meanwhile, for Fajardo as he posted another double-double of 28 points and 15 boards. Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot had 18 and 15, respectively.

SMB climbs at top with a 3-1 slate, sharing the same with Rain or Shine.

The scores:

San Miguel 94-Fajardo 28, Santos 18, Cabagnot 15, Tubid 10, Garcia 9, Lassiter 8, Ross 4. Espinas 2, Agovida 0, Reyes 0, McCarthy 0, De Ocampo 0

Mahindra 91-Mallari 21, Eriobu 17, Revilla 15, Escoto 10, Yee 8, Ballesteros 5, Digregorio 3, Guevara 3, Teng 3, Paniamogan 2, Salva 2, Arana 2, Celda 0, Webb 0

Quarterscores:  26-15, 47-49, 71-66, 94-91

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