San Miguel kicks off PH Cup title defense with 94-78 win over Magnolia

Injury-hit San Miguel Beer superstar June Mar Fajardo wheeled in on a mobility scooter to claim a sixth PBA MVP award.

His teammates made it a more meaningful night as the Beermen started their Philippine Cup six-peat bid with a 94-78 conquest of the Magnolia Hotshots in the lone opening match of PBA Season 45 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday.

Moala Tautuaa and Arwind Santos led SMB players who gallantly stepped up in their first outing with Fajardo sidelined by his shin injury.

Tautuaa (20 points and 11 rebounds) and Santos (18 and 15) came through with double-double numbers and Terrence Romeo, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot had significant contributions as SMB re-stamped its class versus the very opponent it hurdled in winning the 2018 and 2019 all-Filipino finals.

The Beermen came out well prepared minus their 6-foot-10 behemoth, building a 23-point lead at 60-37 and playing tough all the way to a convincing triumph in the season inaugurals that drew a crowd of around 10,000.

“Good thing dumating si June Mar at marami siyang na-inspired; not just us but the crowd,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

“Alam ng lahat, including our players na malaking bagay si June Mar sa mga championships namin. And our players want to pay back,” Austria also said.

The scores:

San Miguel 94 – Tautuaa 20, Romeo 19, Santos 18, Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 10, Ross 4, Escoto 3, Zamar 3, Pessumal 0, Gamalinda 0, Comboy 0.

Magnolia 78 – Lee 19, Sangalang 16, Corpuz 16, Jalalon 8, Barroca 8, Simon 4, Dela Rosa 3, Melton 3, Banchero 1, Pascual 0.

Quarterscores: 18-18, 45-33, 69-56, 94-78.

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