Mar 31, 2024

Perez scores 32, leads Beermen to third straight win versus Fuel Masters

CJ Perez is back in peak form, making San Miguel Beer become even more potent.

The Best Player of the last Commissioner's Cup scored 32 points to lead the Beermen to a rousing 116-102 victory over hard-luck Phoenix Super LPG on Easter Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup's resumption at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Jericho Cruz, Terrence Romeo and Don Trollano all chipped in at least 10 points each while June Mar Fajardo notched a third straight double-double with 13 points and 12 boards, but it was clearly Perez who shone the brightest in SMB's third win in as many games.

Coach Jorge Gallent said it was all about Perez getting his confidence back to shoot those bombs after scoring 39 points, laced by some four-point shots, in last week's highly successful All-Star game in Bacolod.

"He realized that he's a shooter after the All-Star game, so I guess the four-point shot gave him the confidence to shoot 3s now," said Gallent, only half-joking.

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"I'm just trying to be consistent kasi ayaw kong sayangin 'yung trust nila coach," said Perez, who only totaled 16 points in the Beermen's first two games, but made 13 of his 20 shots, including 4-of-8 from deep, this time after playing a personal conference-high 31 minutes.

"Actually, dumagdag nga kompiyansa, sabi nga ni coach, dahil sa All-Stars," added Perez. "First two games medyo nag-he-hesitate ako talaga kasi mas nakukuha ko rhythm ko pag umaatake ako. Pero sabi nga ni coach, just be confident when you take those 3s."

The other SMB players seemingly took the cue, resulting in a 37-point third quarter that stretched their four-point halftime lead to 86-75, going to the final period.

Phoenix would not go down easily and kept within 96-104. But Perez scored seven points and Cruz five during a killer 12-2 run that gave the Beermen a 116-98 lead and ensured the Fuel Masters would absorb their second straight loss and drop to a 1-4 record overall.

"We were giving the other teams opportunity to come back so we just have to keep our energy for 48 minutes and not give the other team the opportunity to get their rhythm," was how Gallent put it.

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Matthew Daves scored a season-high 13 points to match Jayjay Alejandro's production and lead Phoenix, which suffered another casualty when RR Garcia injured his left shoulder early in the second period, putting him on the sidelines along with Tyler Tio, who continues to be out with a knee injury.

Jason Perkins netted 11 points and 11 rebounds while Kent Salado, plucked from free agency following Tio's injury, did fairly well as a substitute point guard and finished with 10 points, four rebounds and as many dimes. (NC)

The Scores:

SAN MIGUEL 116 - Perez 32, Cruz 17, Romeo 16, Trollano 10, Tautuaa 8, Lassiter 6, Brondial 6, manuel 4, Enciso 3, Teng 1, Ross 0.

PHOENIX 102 - Alejandro 13, Daves 13, Mocon 12, Perkins 11, Salado 10, Rivero 10, Tuffin 9, Muyang 6, Jazul 5, Verano 5, Manganti 4, Camaco 2, Lalata 2, Garcia 0.

QUARTERS: 27-23, 49-45, 86-75, 116-102