San Miguel Beer endured a 48-minute intense physical battle, banking on experience to ward off Magnolia, 77-76, and nail an outright playoff spot in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Center here Sunday.
June Mar Fajardo asserted himself at the finish and drew the needed help from Chris Ross, Chico Lanete and Marcio Lassiter as the Beermen bounced back from a loss to the Barangay Ginebra Kings the last time and thus reclaimed league leadership at 6-1.
Playing catch-up basketball most of the way, the Beermen grabbed the lead entering the homestretch and held on to drop the Magnolia Hotshots to joint second place with the Alaska Milk Aces at 6-2.
All three teams, however, are now all virtually assured of a slot in the quarterfinals.
Fajardo delivered 19 points and 21 rebounds while Ross, Lassiter, Lanete and Arwind Santos added at least 11 points each as the Beermen handed the Hotshots a first loss in their last six outings.
San Miguel 77 – Fajardo 19, Ross 15, Lanete 14, Lassiter 12, Santos 11, Rosser 6, Semerad 0, Agovida 0, Heruela 0, Mamaril 0, Pessumal 0.
Magnolia 76 – Barroca 21, Sangalang 13, Melton 10, Jalalon 8, Ramos 7, Pingris 5, Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 4, Simon 2, Pascual 2, Herndon 0.
Quarters: 21-20, 34-44, 52-60, 77-76.