June Mar Fajardo could not be denied.
The five-time Most Valuable Player showed the entire repertoire, scoring a season-high 40 points and grabbing 19 rebounds for a mammoth double-double to lead San Miguel Beer to a 113-107 triumph over ailing NorthPort for its fourth straight win in the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Completely in his element once again Fajardo only missed a single shot, making 14 of his 15 shots while missing only four free throws, 12-of-16, as he was virtually unstoppable.
“My teammates really looked for ma and that gave me confidence. Luckily, I was able to play really well,” described Fajardo of his monster performance.
The peaking Beermen improved to 6-3 to move up to solo third place and inch closer to a berth in the quarterfinals.
In contrast, the Batang Pier lost its fifth in a row to slide down to 10th place with a dismal 2-5 card.
San Miguel erased an early 14-point deficit before turning it on in the second half to secure another win.
Fajardo and Chris Ross showed the way down the stretch for the Beermen, hitting key baskets that kept the Batang Pier at bay as the duo scored their team’s last nine points.
“Overall, we played really well as a team even though we relaxed in the first half,” added Fajardo. “Coach Leo reminded us that we needed to win our remaining games to reach our goal so we all stepped up in the second half.”
Ross’ elbow triple with 12.1 seconds left iced the game for San Miguel as it settled the final score and prevented NorthPort from forcing overtime.
Turning on their championship switch coming off the dugout after a lethargic start, the Beermen flexed their muscles in third frame to grasp command and never look back.
Down by four at the half, San Miguel stepped on the gas pedal right away to start the third, outscoring GlobalPort 29-12 in the first six minutes of the second half to suddenly take over and grab a 79-66 at that point.
The Beermen settled for an 84-77 lead heading the fourth but were able to fight off every Batang Pier uprising in the end.
Moala Tautuua finished with a team-high 28 points for NorthPort.