ANTIPOLO CITY — San Miguel roared back in the fourth quarter to subdue Magnolia, 77-76, and regain first place in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center on Sunday night.
The Beermen used a huge fourth quarter on both ends of the floor to come back from 16 points down and snap the Hotshots’ five-game winning streak.
Magnolia nearly silenced SMB in the second quarter, limiting the defending champion to only 13 points and taking a 44-34 lead by halftime.
The Hotshots then tried to pull away in the third quarter, opening a 56-40 lead late in the quarter.
But the Beermen closed out the period on a 12-4 run to cut the lead to eight, 60-52.
They then inched closer early in the fourth and cut the lead down to three, 64-61, with 8:21 left.
Magnolia still tried to pull away after stretching its lead back up to six, 68-62, but SMB went on an 8-1 run capped by a huge corner triple from Chris Ross to go up, 70-69, with 3:01 to go.
Jio Jalalon gave the Hotshots the lead one more time, 71-70, with a top of the key jumper with 1:45 to go.
He, however, made a costly error of going for the steal off a cross-court pass, leading to Chico Lanete draining a wide-open triple for a 73-71 Beermen lead with 1:33 remaining.
Mark Barroca tried to answer back with his own triple, but his long bomb rimmed out.
Still, SMB gave Magnolia an opening as Junemar Fajardo only made a split from the line to up the lead to three, 74-71, with 56.3 seconds to go, and Aldrech Ramos scored on a field goal with 26.6 seconds remaining to trim the gap to one, 74-73.
The Hotshots decided to go for a quickly foul Ross, which nearly paid off as he missed two free throws with 24.5 seconds remaining.
But Fajardo muscled his way and grabbed the offensive rebound before getting fouled by Ian Sangalang. Fajardo made both his charities to up the lead back to three, 76-73, with 23.6 seconds remaining.
Jalalon found himself free for a quick two, but his floater went offline and Marcio Lassiter sealed the win with a free throw.
Fajardo had a quiet 19 points, but he made 11-of-14 free throws while also tallying 21 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks for SMB, which bounced back from a huge loss against Ginebra last week.
Lanete fired 4-of-5 from downtown to finish with 14 points along with four rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Barroca ended up with 21 points, five caroms, two steals, and one block for Magnolia, which fell to a tie with Alaska, which won over GlobalPort earlier Sunday, for second place at 6-2. PNA-northboundasia.com