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PBA: SMB survives Converge's 2nd half fightback to score win in Tiaong thriller

Ivan Aska takes flight for a layup as Jerrick Balanza tries to run out of harm's way. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

TIAONG--San Miguel almost saw its first-half dominance getting dissolved but still found a way to get past Converge, 105-96, in the first non-Mega Manila game of the 2023-2024 PBA regular season on Saturday night at the Tiaong Convention Center.

The Beermen were almost unstoppable in the first 24 minutes of play, racing to a 47-29 lead late in the first half before finishing the half up by 13, 50-37.

In the second half, however, the FiberXers slowly crawled back to the game especially with their three-point shooting improving, and they eventually cut the lead down to one, 85-84, with 7:25 left in the fourth quarter.

SMB finally found its escape route after going on an 11-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to up the lead back to 10, 96-86, with 3:40 remaining even as the team countered every Converge field goal to stay afloat in the end.

"Every win is challenging now because the PBA is kinda stacked up. Plus we have injuries that are hurting us, but that's not an excuse," coach Jorge Gallent told Dugout Philippines after the game, with the injuries referring to Terrence Romeo, Jeron Teng, and Kyt Jimenez.

Aska finished 10-for-19 from the field for 28 points with 11 rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal for the Beermen, who joined a four-way tie for third place at 2-1.

CJ Perez added 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and four steals, while June Mar Fajardo put up 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and two steals.

Aljun Melecio fired 17 points, three rebounds, and five assists, while Tom Vodanovich added 11 points, 20 rebounds, one assist, and one steal for the FiberXers, who remained winless after four tries.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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