San Miguel draws first blood on Converge in PBA quarterfinal clash

San Miguel is one win away from a PBA Commissioner’s Cup semis berth. (PBA Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The San Miguel Beermen kicked off its 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs campaign on a high note after dismantling the Converge FiberXers, 114-96, last December 7, 2022, held at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

From the get-go, it was all San Miguel as the reigning and defending PBA Philippine Cup champions put their imprints on the game spearheaded by the offensive prowess of star CJ Perez.

Perez was a pest on both ends of the floor, providing the early scoring punch while reading the passing lanes to perfection to record some easy steals for a coast-to-coast layup.

The Gilas Pilipinas shooting guard led all SMB players in scoring and ended up the contest with 25 big points including the big three-pointers that helped the Beermen pull away in the second frame.

Backstopping Perez is PBA’s only six-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) June Mar Fajardo and contributed another double-double performance of 16 points and 19 rebounds.

Fajardo finished what Perez started and schooled Converge’s every defense thrown at him. When the towering superstar scored three-straight baskets on Justin Arana’s single coverage, the FiberXers’ head coach Aldin Ayo deployed soft double teams but still wasn’t enough to stop his dominance in the shaded lane.

Converge attempted to trim the Beermen’s lead to single digits midway in the fourth quarter courtesy of Quincy Miller’s short span of explosion.

However, the duo of Fajardo and Perez countered the Converge run and ballooned their lead once again to create another comfortable cushion.

SMB’s import Devon Scott continued his consistent play and became the stabilizer after putting up 23 points while pulling down 12 boards in the huge win.

“They’re gelling now. The best part about it is everybody’s healthy now, so everybody’s contributing, everybody’s during their job. It’s so nice to have a healthy team,” said SMB’s assistant coach Jorge Gallent.

On the other hand, it was only Converge’s import, Miller, who had a decent performance after erupting for 41 points and 13 rebounds.

San Miguel will have the chance to end the quarterfinal series when they square off with Converge again tomorrow in Game 2.