By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE defending champions San Miguel Beermen (SMB) notched their fourth straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday but not after being made to sweat by the Blackwater Elite, 90-88, in overtime in the opening game of a quadruple-header at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga.
Back on the floor following a league-induced four-day break to tournament proceedings for fine-tuning of coronavirus protocols, the Beermen found the going tough against the Elite throughout the match but found a way in the end to pull off the win.
Mo Tautuaa showed the way for the Beermen, finishing with 26 points and 14 rebounds to help his team sustain its winning streak that now has them sporting a 5-2 record.
Blackwater, which returned to the court after 11 days as one of its players tested positive for the coronavirus (later ruled as “false positive”) and had the team needing to be isolated and observed, started strong on the lead of Don Trollano and Frank Golla.
It took the opening quarter, 27-20.
In the second quarter, the Beermen had better footing on both ends of the court to fight their way back and tie the knot at 41-all at halftime.
The nip-and-tuck pace of the contest continued in the third frame. Blackwater was ahead, 54-53, with 3:26 left in the quarter before San Miguel went on a 13-5 run to build a 66-59 cushion heading into the final frame.
The Beermen maintained control early in the fourth canto but eventually saw the Elite catch up with them at 77-all at the 5:54 mark.
San Miguel held a three-point lead, 84-81, with 2:28 left in regulation following a basket from Mr. Tautuaa.
Ed Daquioag, however, tied the score for the Elite at 84-all with a triple with 1:20 remaining; a count that would stay, forcing the extra period.
In overtime, the Elite raced to an 88-84 lead in the first three minutes.
But Chris Ross would score five straight points to tow the Beermen to the lead anew, 89-88, with 1:14 to go.
Blackwater had a lot of chances to win the game after but could not complete them, allowing San Miguel to hold on for the win.
Marcio Lassiter finished with 12 points in the Beermen’s win with Alex Cabagnot adding with 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
For Blackwater (2-4), which has now lost three straight, it was Mr. Daquioag who top-scored with 20 points, followed by Mike Tolomia with 17.
The San Miguel-Blackwater match opened a busy day for the PBA on Tuesday where a quadruple-header was scheduled.
It was the first of a series of quadruple-header offerings set by the league to make up for the lost play dates since Oct. 30, when it decided to postpone all matches as it fine-tuned its coronavirus protocols in collaboration with the government, and for the PBA to stay on track of finishing the elimination round by Nov. 11.
Quadruple-headers are also slated on Nov. 4, 6, 8, and 11 while triple-headers are set for Nov. 5 and 9.