ANTIPOLO—Coach Jorge Gallent wasn’t too worried when San Miguel Beer’s big lead dwindled down to 10 amid a Phoenix fightback with still 5:49 left.
After all, the Beermen feature an experienced crew with a lot of championship pedigree led by six-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo.
“When leads go down, it’s a challenge for the team to recover so that’s what they did. When our lead went down we did not panic at all. We just stayed composed and the lead went up again. We did not go into that panic stage,” said Gallent, who replaced Leo Austria at the helm just before the season-ending conference tipped off.
“This team is very composed, once the lead went from 30 to 10, I was very confident that they’d still survive,” he added.
Gallent was right as the Beermen responded by closing the game on a 17-6 run.
Gallent, however, reminded his players to remain locked in from start to finish after the Beermen blew a 33-point lead.
“We just couldn’t relax. We always have to play all 48 minutes. If we relax, we’re giving the opponents chances to come back so we just had to play hard for 48 minutes whether you’re coming off the bench or starting, you have to keep that energy when you’re inside the court.”
Fajardo powered the Beermen with 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and 13 rebounds while Cameron Clark led all scorers with 23 points that went with seven rebounds and three steals.
“Our team is built with pretty good veterans that won a lot of championships so it’s good to be with a lot of vets you can learn from. The composure part comes from them,” said San Miguel guard Simon Enciso, who was also solid with 14 points on top of nine assists.
Three more finished in double digits for the Beermen with CJ Perez adding 18, Allyn Bulanadi tallying 16 off the bench and Marcio Lassiter chipping in 11.