The Converge FiberXers quickly bounced back as they dealt the San Miguel Beermen its first loss, 107-103, in the ongoing 2023 PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday, February 11.
In the last two minutes of the game, San Miguel Beermen player Jaymar Perez managed to trim the deficit to one with his drive, 98-99. However, Converge FiberXers guard Maverick Ahanmisi had a perfect response with a three-point to get back up by four, 102-98.
Once again, Jaymar Perez trimmed the deficit to one with his three-point play after being fouled by Kevin Barkley Ebona, 101-102. With 50 seconds left in the clock, Jamaal Franklin had a perfect layup to provide a breather to his team, 104-101.
Unfortunately for the San Miguel Beermen, Justin Araña was fouled, and he successfully shot his two free throws to extend Converge FiberXers's lead to five, 106-101. With eight seconds left in the clock, Jericho Cruz had a two-point jump shot to trim Converge FiberXers' lead to three, 103-106.
Jerrick Balanza split his free throw after he was fouled by Jaymar Perez to extend their lead to four, 107-103. With two seconds remaining, Jericho Cruz shot a three-point from the arc, but he missed, giving the Converge FiberXers their fifth victory.
Converge FiberXers import Jamaal Franklin had another good night with 37 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists while Maverick Ahanmisi provided the spark off the bench with 15 points and six rebounds.
Alec Stockton added 14 points and five rebounds while Jerrick Balanza contributed 11 points off the bench.
For the side of the San Miguel Beermen, import Cameron Clark had another double-double performance with 30 points and 12 rebounds while Jaymar Perez added 28 points.
Jericho Cruz was the star of San Miguel Beermen's bench with 14 points while June Mar Fajardo, who was fouled out late in the fourth quarter, was limited to seven points and 10 rebounds.
With the win, the Converge FiberXers and the San Miguel Beermen are statistically tied at five wins and one loss. Since the Converge FiberXers won their head-to-head matchup, they are now ranked third in the standing while the San Miguel Beermen is fourth.
PBA Recap Today: San Miguel and Converge Statistically Tied
Looking at the statistics, the San Miguel Beermen dominated almost all the departments but the Converge FiberXers had a good plan to stop and beat them. Both the San Miguel Beermen and the Converge FiberXers had a 44% shooting efficiency with the San Miguel Beermen making 41 shots out of 92 attempts while the Converge FiberXers made 33 shots out of 75 attempts.
In the two-point field goals, the San Miguel Beermen had a clear advantage with 56% shooting efficiency in 37 out of 65 attempts compared to 51% of the Converge FiberXers in 24 out of 47 attempts.
In the three-point field goals, the Converge FiberXers had a low 32% efficiency with only nine out of 28 attempts successful, but the San Miguel Beermen had a much lower 14% efficiency with one four out of 27 attempts successful.
The Converge FiberXers also had a 78% efficiency in a free throw, making 32 points out of 41 tries while the San Miguel Beermen only had a 53% free throw efficiency, making 17 points in 32 attempts.
Meanwhile, the San Miguel Beermen dominated in the points scored in the paint with 58, 20 more than the Converge FiberXers' 38 points in the paint. They also had 19 second-chance points greater than their opponent's nine points.
In the non-scoring department, the San Miguel Beermen had more assists with 24 than the Converge FiberXers' 16 assists. They also recorded six steals, compared to their opponent's only two.
The only dominating statistics the Converge FiberXers won was in the bench points with Maverick Ahanmisi and Jerrick Balanza combining for 26 points of Converge's 42 points. In comparison, the San Miguel Beermen's bench only contributed 28 points.
The Converge FiberXers and the San Miguel Beermen were tied in rebounds with 50 each, blocks with four each, and personal fouls with 32 each.
PBA Highlights Today: Jamaal Franklin, Maverick Ahanmisi Deflect Credit to Teammates, Coach Aldin Ayo
As they are the first team to beat the prolific San Miguel Beermen, Converge FiberXers import Jamaal Franklin and bench sparkplug Maverick Ahanmisi deflected the credit to their fellow teammates and to their head coach, Aldin Ayo.
Maverick Ahanmisi, who was the guy behind the huge three-point shot late in the fourth quarter, admitted that this conference is his best conference to date. Maverick Ahanmisi, an American-born Filipino-Nigerian player, was drafted in 2015 as the third overall pick by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
"It is what it is and I credit that to coach Alden. He's really put the confidence in me to play this way. He's put the leadership role for me, and I got guys like Alec Stockton playing great too," Maverick Ahanmisi said to reporters after the match.
"I credit [Coach Aldin Ayo] big. Everybody's been asking me lately why I've been playing the way I do, and I credit that to him honestly. From all the injuries that I've sustained, he was really patient with me. He allows me to heal when I need to heal. As I said, he trusts me enough to be a pro by myself and work on my body."
Converge FiberXers import Jamaal Franklin quickly credited his teammates for their fifth victory, as if he didn't carry the team with team-high 37 points.
"That was a team win. I'm here as the best player right now, but we were just the best team. There should be the best team. It should be every one of our last players right now. I couldn't do this sh*t by myself. That was a team win," he told reporters after the match.
Despite their hard-fought victory, Jamaal Franklin was all praise for the San Miguel Beermen for fighting a good fight.
"We were the best team, but San Miguel is one hell of a team. I want to take credit for them. They are well-coached, they have great players, and they are respected in this league.
"We were just the better team today. We were just the better team today but if we want to be where they are at, we just have to keep bringing it like them. We just got to continue."
Meanwhile, although they suffered their first loss, the San Miguel Beermen was not losing any sleep over it since it was just one game, and the season is still long.
Jaymar Perez said to reporters, "This is just one game. We still have plenty left and all of that is a chance to get back up. This is going to be a long conference."
"We have no excuse. We played our San Miguel's brand of basketball and Converge did. They hit free throws, too. The consolation is that we were able to keep it close until the end."
Coach's Corner: Aldin Ayo's Strategy to Foul Out June Mar Fajardo
After the game, Converge FiberXers head coach Aldin Ayo was beaming when pride after his players successfully execute their plan to make San Miguel Beermen big man and six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo a liability for his team.
He said, "We wanted to take June Mar away from the game right away, so I told the boys to play their game. I told them to make sure to get their pace and [Fajardo] to be a liability on their defense."
"He's probably the best player in terms of offense but even he has lapsed. Everybody knows it, that's the trade-off. We wanted to exploit that."
Coach Aldin did not get the credit all to himself as he commended his big men Justin Araña and Barkley Eboña for giving June Mar Fajardo a hard time under the bucket.
"Justin played well, and I think Jamaal (Franklin) is also doing very well in motivating him because, during practices, he keeps on giving Justin advice. It's a good thing (Justin) listened to Jamaal, especially at the finish. Not only Justin, even Barkley, but he also contributed and played well."
Although fouling out June Mar Fajardo was the primary goal of the Converge FiberXers, San Miguel Beermen head coach Jorge Gallent explained that it was not the main reason they lost the match.
"Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe if June Mar stayed, it's better for us. But it is what it is. June Mar fouled out. He got his sixth foul with still four minutes. We just have to learn from our mistakes. We committed a lot of fouls in the end because we gave them 21 free throws in the fourth quarter. We just have to learn from that. We have to play good defense," the rookie coach said after absorbing his first loss.
Despite recording their first loss, coach Jorge Gallent is confident that his team would bounce back in the season-ending conference.
"We just have to bounce back from this loss. We're still among the top teams in the league so we just have to go up, up, and up. We're not focused on the quarters, we're more focused on winning games. And then if it comes, lucky for us."
When is the next PBA Game?
The Converge FiberXers will next face the NLEX Road Warriors on Saturday, February 18, while the San Miguel Beermen will try to bounce back against the NorthPort Batang Pier on Wednesday, February 15.