THE long layoff visibly took some edge off San Miguel Beer.
Still, the Beermen got enough left in its tank to hold off NLEX 114-108 Friday and formalize their entry into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Charles Rhodes had 37 points and 19 rebounds and got plenty of help from his local teammates as SMB shook off the ill effects of a 13-day layoff to take control right in the opening quarter.
By the final two-minute mark of the third period, the Beermen sat on a 24-point lead which they used as cushion to fend off the Road Warriors’ last-ditch efforts to act out the role of spoilers.
“It affected us on our game against TNT, which caught us really flat,” added Austria. “In this game we were again sluggish in the first quarter. Kaya nga I’m really happy we were able to recover and dictate the tempo of the game.”
The victory was the sixth in seven games for SMB as it joined early qualifiers Meralco, Star and TNT KaTropa in the next round. – PBA
SMB 114 – Rhodes 37, Ross 15, Santos 13, Cabagnot 12, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Espinas 8, Heruela 5, Reyes 0, Agovida 0.
NLEX 108 – Chism 22, Al-Hussaini 18, Quinahan 12, Lastimosa 12, Mallari 11, Tiongson 10, Alas 9, Rios 7, Baracael 5, Soyud 2, Taulava 0, Ighalo 0.
Quarterscores: 36-22, 60-43, 89-73, 114-108.