by Jonas Terrado
Games Saturday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Meralco
6:45 p.m. – Alaska vs Phoenix Pulse
San Miguel Beer capitalized on the absence of Blackwater import Alex Stepheson and romped to a 127-106 win that ended a two-game losing start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Former Best Import Charles Rhodes had 32 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks while Von Pessumal scored 12 points after a streak of 13 consecutive triples came to an end as the Beermen entered the win column.
Marcio Lassiter was also a key for SMB as he hit 29 points that included seven three-pointers in the fourth that kept Blackwater at bay after a 20-point lead was reduced to nine on two occasions.
Lassiter finished with nine triples, falling one shy of joining the great Allan Caidic as the only locals to hit at least 10 threes in a game twice.
Blackwater dropped to third place at 5-2 after it was forced to play with an all-Filipino lineup after Stepheson dealt with food poisoning.
The team said Stepheson flew to the United States for a checkup with his doctor but is expected to return before its match against NorthPort on June 22 at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Beermen’s victory was a big recovery after falling to the NorthPort Batang Pier and TNT KaTropa by a combined margin of 46 points to start the midseason campaign.
It also came at a timely manner as SMB battles defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
SAN MIGUEL 127 – Rhodes 32, Lassiter 29, Cabagnot 19, Fajardo 12, Pessumal 12, Rosser 7, Zamar 8, Ross 6, Standhardinger 2.
BLACKWATER 106 – Parks 23, Digregorio 18, Sumang 17, Al-Hussaini 11, Maliksi 11, Javier 6, Sena 5, Tratter 5, Cortez 4, Belo 2, Banal 2, Alolino 2, Jose 0, Desiderio 0.
Quarters: 29-21, 62-47, 90-74, 127-106.