Have you ever heard of the saying, “basketball is a game of runs”? If there was ever a game that could encapsulate that phrase, it would be this one. All night, it seemed as though both teams were content on taking turns getting scoring bursts here and there. The San Miguel Beermen took first blood as they jumped out to a quick 10-point lead in the first quarter, a lead that Rain or Shine erased late in the 2nd quarter. They continued their solid play to begin the 4th up by two. At that point, it started to look like one of those San Miguel/Petron games where they would just fade down the stretch. Fortunately for them, led by a career game from June Mar Fajardo, the Beermen had the last laugh as they came out on top 97-92. How did they pull this one out? Let’s take a look.

Key Stats


San Miguel

44.7% 52.9% 28.0% 19.7% 13.2%

Rain or Shine

42.4% 47.2% 23.3% 25.7% 11.8%

Keys to the Game

Local Support

Reggie Williams had himself another great game, finishing with 29 points and 12 rebounds. He managed to pace himself better this time around, even with the heavier minute load (45 total minutes played). He picked his spots and let the offense run through Fajardo and Chris Ross more, enabling him to have enough energy to score 12 of his points in the final period. Most importantly, local production was there to back him up. Fajardo had himself a monster game (we’ll talk about that later) and Arwind Santos somewhat rebounded from a dreadful game against Alaska with 10 points and 4 rebounds (including two key offensive rebounds late in the 4th). Marcio Lassiter also started out strong, scoring all 8 of his points in the 1st half, although foul trouble kept him on the bench for much of the 2nd. Special mention to Rico Maierhofer and Ross as well. Although his stat line didn’t look particularly good (7 points and nothing else), Maierhofer’s energy and hustle was apparent in all of his 13 minutes of action. He had a few aggressive drives that sucked Rain or Shine’s defense into the paint, resulting in kick-outs and 2nd chance opportunities. Although he drew the tough task of guarding Arizona Reid, he didn’t allow himself to be overpowered and held his own in the post. Chris Ross also redeemed himself as he came off the bench to score 2 points, grab 11 (!!) boards, and dish out 5 assists, as well as getting 5 steals. He was pretty much everywhere on the court.

Not a one-man show this time. (Photo Credit: Nuki Sabio, Rappler)

Not a one-man show this time. (Photo Credit: Nuki Sabio, Rappler)

Feed the Kraken

San Miguel should give Fajardo a big raise as he carried this team through the 2nd half. He ended the night with a career-high 28 points on 9 of 17 FGs (52.9%) and 10 of 13 FTs (76.9%). He also added 18 rebounds (6 offensive). I did say that they should give him the ball early and often and boy did he take advantage. In the 1st quarter alone he registered 4 points, 5 shot attempts, 5 boards, and fished 2 fouls from Beau Belga. From then on, his aggression didn’t go down one bit. Looking at his quarter scoring alone is proof of this:


Q2 Q3 Q4


4 8 12

He was scoring off lobs, offensive putbacks, and good seals. It didn’t really matter who or how he was guarded. Belga, Raymond Almazan, and Larry Rodriguez took turns, most of them trying to front him. But Fajardo was just too big as they could not keep him out of the paint. His aggression also paid off as it led to Belga and Almazan fouling out midway through the 4th quarter while forcing Rodriguez to pick up his 5th as well. The only real knock on him was that he missed a lot of point blank shots, most due to a lack of patience and discipline in the post. His defense was also better. He was quicker on rotations, wasn’t getting burned on open jumpers, and didn’t allow the opposing bigs to use their speed advantage against him.

Hold Down the Fort

If there was one aspect that was lacking from San Miguel’s game, it was their defense in the paint. A lot of Rain or Shine’s runs were because of defensive breakdowns on fastbreaks and penetration off halfcourt sets. Arizona Reid was the chief problem as he just bullied his way into the paint. Although he finished the game shooting 8 of 22 from the 2 point area, he still generated 12 freethrow attempts. 7 of his 18 rebounds were on the offensive end as well. And for most of the game, he was leaking out on the Beermen’s missed shots, beating his man down the court for easy points. One good thing is that the guards were able to contain penetration from Paul Lee (9 of his 11 attempts were from distance, only 2 freethrows) and Ryan Arana (1 of 4 from the field, no freethrows). They will have to clean up their defensive rebounding as well, as the Elasto Painters had the edge in offensive rebounding (18-13) and 2nd chance points (15-11).

Other Observations

1. As I mentioned, Lassiter started out well but didn’t provide much else after halftime, mostly due to foul trouble. His totals for the first two games aren’t inspiring: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist. I do believe that he is one of the Beermen’s most important players and they usually win when he plays well. It might be because of Williams taking his place in the offense (the same happened in last year’s Governor’s Cup). Either way, he has to have a bigger impact.

2. For the 2nd straight game, Sol Mercado has started in place of Ross, a curious decision by the coaching staff that I don’t really agree with. Just look at their numbers through the first two games:


Sol Mercado vs. ALA

22 5 1 5 2 1 2 3

vs. ROS

14 0 0 2 0 3 0 3

Chris Ross vs. ALA

14 0 0 2 1 4 0 2

vs. ROS

26 4 1 7 11 5 5 2

Although both struggled to score, Ross brings a lot more to the table. With such an offensively loaded starting group, they need a steadier point guard who can do a little bit of everything. It also helps to have Ross’ defense set the tone early. Mercado’s strength is really attacking the basket and that style of play might be better utilized off the bench as a spark and to lead the 2nd unit.

3. A lot of Rain or Shine’s scoring bursts can be attributed to San Miguel’s offense bogging down. They still have moments when they revert to ISO basketball, forgetting to either move the ball or give it to Fajardo in the middle. It would do them well to remember that it’s better to play inside-out than outside-in and avoid a large amount of simply passing around the perimeter, without first attacking the paint. They may be better served to either have their guards attack first then kick out or have Fajardo post and look for an open man.

Overall, if the Beermen are able to keep up this and improve game-by-game, there’s no reason not to believe they can make a big push for the championship. Hopefully, this means we’re back to fearing the beer once again.