By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The San Miguel Beermen showed they had enough gas to hold their ground against the Rain or Shine Elastopainters, 104-100, during the 2022 PBA Governor’s Cup.
SMB’s 19-point lead in the second quarter surprisingly vanished in the second half when Rain or Shine went on an emphatic offensive run led by veteran and savvy import Henry Walker.
From 45-26, the Elastopainters suddenly cut the SMB lead to just two in the fourth quarter, 76-74, courtesy of a Beau Belga layup that helped restore order on their side.
However, the Beermen’s championship pedigree and poise under pressure became a factor in the game as Vic Manuel and import Shabazz Muhammad answered every Rain or Shine basket.
The game went down to the wire until the last minute when both teams traded baskets but a Vic Manuel clutch jump shot conversion at the top of the key extended SMB’s lead to four, 102-98.
Rain or Shine didn’t stop and was eager to score on the next possession that rewarded them with Javee Mocon’s two points from the charity stripe but Muhammad answered with his deuce from the free-throw line that sealed the win for SMB.
This is Muhammad’s first win wearing the SMB uniform and tallied a game-high 33 points and 21 rebounds double-double performance, a huge bounce back from their loss against the Magnolia Hotshots.
Aside from Muhammad, the Beermen were also paced by its four locals who also scored in double digits, Manuel with 18, Terrence Romeo with 17, June Mar Fajardo with 14, and CJ Perez with 11.
Meanwhile, the Elastopainters need to win their remaining games to stay within the Governor’s Cup playoffs race and avoid a quarterfinal elimination.