The San Miguel Beermen, the winningest team in the history of the PBA, continued their hot start as they defeated the Meralco Bolts, 94-86, in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup.
In the third quarter, Norman Aaron Black's two-point floating jumper tied the match at 53-all. However, San Miguel Beermen players Cameron Clark, Simon Enciso, and June Mar Fajardo scored nine consecutive points to build their lead, 62-53.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Chris Bachero's free throws cut San Miguel Beerman's lead to six, 63-69. However, the San Miguel Beermen did not look back as they hold on to their lead throughout the quarter to win the match, 94-86.
San Miguel Beermen import Cameron Clark once again led his team with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Jaymar Perez had 19 points and five rebounds, while Jericho Cruz added 13 points.
June Mar Fajardo had another double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds while starters Simon Enciso and Marcio Lassiter combined for 15 points.
For the side of the Meralco Bolts, import KJ McDaniels had 18 points and 13 rebounds while Chris Newsome also added 18 markers. Allein Maliksi contributed 16 points and seven rebounds.
With the win, the San Miguel Beermen stayed on top of the standing with a flawless 5-0 win-loss record while the Meralco Bolts slid down to a 3-2 record.
PBA Recap: Balanced Statistics for San Miguel Beermen, Meralco Bolts
Just looking at the statistics, the San Miguel Beermen and the Meralco Bolts do not have a huge advantage over each other. For the attacking department, the San Miguel Beermen had a 44% efficiency in 34 out of 76 shooting, much higher compared to just the 35% efficiency of the Meralco Bolts in 30 out of 84 shooting.
For two-point field goals, the San Miguel Beermen also had an advantage with a 49% efficiency while the Meralco Bolts only recorded 34%. However, the Meralco Bolts led in the three-point field goal with 37% efficiency in 11 out of 29 tries, higher compared to the 34% of the San Miguel Beermen's 34% efficiency.
The San Miguel Beermen did not only dominate the medium- to long-range shots as they also tallied 40 points from the paint, 10 more than the Meralco Bolts' 30.
With June Mar Fajardo at the center, the San Miguel Beermen recorded 52 rebounds, five more compared to 47 of the Meralco Bolts. Meanwhile, the Meralco Bolts took advantage of Norman Aaron Black's ball-handling skills with 23 assists against Meralco's 25.
With both teams having five steals each, it all came down to turnovers and personal fouls, which the Meralco Bolt won both. The Meralco Bolt had managed to limit their turnovers to 10, compared to San Miguel Beermen's 14, which they then converted to 18 points.
The foul troubled San Miguel Beermen also committed 25 personal fouls, higher than the foul called against the Meralco Bolts at 18. The Meralco Bolts also had more second-chance points, bench points, and fast break points but it still led to their second loss in five games.
Coach's Corner: Jorge Gallent's Expected Hot Start
San Miguel Beermen head coach Jorge Gallent admitted that he kind of expected his ward's hot start in the season-ending PBA Governors' Cup since their import Cameron Clark arrived in the Philippines much earlier compared to other imports.
Aside from that, the newly minted head coach of the San Miguel Beermen also attributed their great start to the willingness and eagerness of every player during their practice sessions.
“Through hard work, of course, yes. We have been practicing hard, we've been doing things that surprised the opponents. And, yes, because our import came early. Cam is a big, big factor in this 5-0 start. He's doing a great job,” said Jorge Gallent, who was a long-time deputy of nine-time champion coach Leo Austria.
Although Cameron Clark did not drop 50 points after 50 points compared to his fellow imports, he still did what needed to be done to help the San Miguel Beermen to victory.
“Hats off to him and the players, all of them are playing hard. The 5-0 is because of them playing hard, because of them learning to play with one another. That's the main reason why we are 5 and 0.”
However, as the conference continues to progress, coach Jorge Gallent expected much tougher games against the likes of the Converge FiberXers, TNT Tropang Giga, NLEX Road Warriors, and the defending champions, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
“Teams are getting tougher. Now when the league is getting longer, we are getting scouted. We just have to learn through that and work through it.”
The San Miguel Beermen will next face the Converge FiberXers on Saturday, February 11. Meanwhile, the Meralco Bolts will try to get back to the winning column against the TNT Tropang Giga on Friday, February 17.