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SMB barges into win column, upend Fuel Masters

Renaldo Balkman and the rest of the San Miguel Beermen came out big the second half en route to its first win. (PBA Media Bureau)

By Ricky Manliguis

QUEZON CITY—San Miguel finally notched a win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, using a torrid second-half display to foil Phoenix Petroleum, 106-94, in the main game of Wednesday action at the Big Dome.

With Renaldo Balkman issuing a double-double and Christian Standhardinger leading the local crew, the defending champions buked a so-so start to snap a 0-3 slump in the mid-season conference.

Trailing 49-37 at the half, the Beermen buckled up on both ends in the second, outscoring the Fuel Masters 35-21 for a 72-70 lead heading into the final canto.

And with the scores knotted at 88-all, the Beermen then unloaded a 15-1 run on an Arwind Santos dunk for 103-86 with 46 seconds left.

Balkman came out with a game-high 35 points and 17 rebounds on 14-of-22 shooting from the field. The Puerto Rican also dished out four assists, four blocks, and two steals.

Standhardinger came up with 18 points, while Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos both issued 13 markers. June Mar Fajardo, recovering from a slight fever, grabbed 13 points and nine markers.

Coach Leo Austria admitted during post-game that the Beermen have yet to find the chemistry.

"Talagang makikita niyo naman na talagang we're not yet in the game that we had during the semifinals or playoffs of the All-Filipino. And we're trying our best na as soon as possible, makuha namin ang chemistry namin," Austria said.

"Good thing the players off the bench, Alex (Cabagnot), Arwind and Christian Standhardinger played well and they stepped up. Slowly nakukuha na namin ang right combination para sa team namin."

Eugene Phelps had 33 points and 17 rebounds for Phoenix, which dropped to an even 3-3 card. Matthew Wright added 17 markers while RJ Jazul was the other double-figure scorer with 10.

San Miguel gears up for its mammoth match-up with sister team Barangay Ginebra (1-3) on Sunday at the Mall Of Asia Arena.

The scores:
San Miguel 106 – Balkman 35, Standhardinger 18, Cabagnot 13, Santos 13, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 9, Ross 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Lanete 0, Heruela 0.
Phoenix 94 – Phelps 33, Wright 17, Jazul 10, Perkins 8, Chua 8, Kramer 6, Wilson 6, Chan 4, Mendoza 2, Intal 0, Revilla 0.
Quarterscores: 17-18; 37-49; 72-70; 106-94.

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