By Robert Andaya
LESSONS learned for San Miguel Beer and import Ivan Aska.
Aska delivered a stellar performance with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds as San Miguel bounced back from a heartbreaking overtime loss by securing a convincing 93-83 victory over the previously undefeated Meralco in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen, who had let a 19-point lead slip away in an overtime defeat to NLEX last Wednesday, again established a commanding 21-point lead in the second quarter.
But this time, the Beermen held on to clinch the victory.
“I just learned my lesson from the first game. It was my first time, so the players and the coaching staff got me ready for (this) game,”said Aska., who fouled out with still 6:28 left in regulation in San Miguel’s 103-108 overtime loss to NLEX last Wednesday.
“I told myself I have to stay in the game and just do what I do, play defense and offense,” added aska.
Seven-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo contributed 17 points, 15 rebounds, and three assists, while CJ Perez added 16 points and six rebounds for the Beermen.
But it was Chris Ross, who played a crucial role in the victory.
Ross scored 10 points, including a dagger 3-point shot, to help the Beermen hold off the Bolts for a 90-81 lead with only 1:14 remaining.
Meralco suffered its first setback following two consecutive victories.
Chris Newsome led the charge for Meralco, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting, along with six assists, three rebounds, and two steals.
Import Suleiman Braimoh posted 15 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists under coach Luigi Trillo. However, Braimoh’s 15-point output fell significantly below his average as he shot just 6-of-18 from the field.
Raymond Almazan added 11 points and six rebounds, while Cliff Hodge contributed 10 points and seven rebounds in the team’s setback.
The victory, however, could prove costly for San Miguel.
Terrence Romeo had to sit out the entire second half due to aggravating a right knee injury.
The game also marked the PBA debut of rookie Kyt Jimenez, the 76th overall pick in the recent draft. But like similar to Romeo, Jimenez had to exit the game early in the fourth quarter after accidentally getting hit on the right eye by Hodge’s elbow.
San Miguel (93) – Aska 27, Fajardo 17, Perez 16, Ross 10, Romeo 9, Tautuaa 7, Enciso 5, Jimenez 2, Bulanadi 0.
Meralco (83) – Newsome 22, Braimoh 15, Almazan 11, Hodge 10, Bates 6, Quinto 5, Dario 5, Caram 4, Rios 3, Jackson 2, Pasaol 0.
Quarterscores: 29-20, 55-43, 66-62, 93-83