SAN Miguel showed more poise at the crunch to escape with a 100-98 decision against Magnolia on Sunday and grab a piece of the PBA Governors' Cup lead at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cameron Clark, Marcio Lassiter and Simon Enciso provided the clutch points for the Beermen in the stretch that held off the Hotshots and pointed them home to their fourth win in as many games and tie idle co-leaders Converge and NLEX.
Still, it took a miss by Magnolia's Paul Lee from deep in the dying seconds before the Hotshots officially dropped to a 0-3 record while SMB grabbed the win that was a far cry from the Beermen's first three games, when they won by an average of 20 points.
The squeaker was enough to please SMB coach Jorge Gallent somewhat, especially with the way his charges handled themselves in the face of Magnolia's unrelenting pressure.
"Magnolia is a very strong and well-organized team so this was a really big game for us, just to put us to where we stand in this league," said Gallent.
"I told the players to forget about the first three games because Magnolia is really a strong and good team," added Gallent. "So it's good we won tonight, beating a strong team."
Despite falling behind by 12 points early and plunging into a 91-100 hole going to the last 1:20 of play, Magnolia did exactly as what Gallent feared and suddenly strung up seven straight points through Mark Barroca and Calvin Abueva to come within 98-100.
The Hotshots even had the chance to tie or even win it inside the last 10 seconds when CJ Perez muffed two free throws. But with no timeout remaining they had to scramble on a last-ditch thrust that culminated in Lee's miss.
Clark finished with 19 points which he capped with a pair of putbacks that fueled SMB's surge to its last nine-point lead while Lassiter added 18 points off six triples. Perez still wound up with 17 points, June Mar Fajardo 16 markers and 10 boards while Enciso tossed in 12 points on top of nine assists.
Lee also had 19 points and Jio Jalalon 17 markers, seven boards, five assists and six steals for Magnolia, which could only draw 13 points from Eric McCree following a 4-of-18 clip from the field on possibly his last game for the Hotshots this conference.
Magnolia is reportedly set to bring in former Terrafirma import Antonio Hester as the Hotshots continue to struggle without Ian Sangalang, who missed his second straight game due to health issues. (NC)
San Miguel Beer 100 - Clark 19, Lassiter 18, Perez 17, Fajardo 16, Cruz 13, Enciso 12, Brondial 3, Manuel 2, Bulanadi 0.
Magnolia 98 - Lee 19, Jalalon 17, Mccree 13, Barroca 13, Abueva 11, Escoto 9, Laput 9, Dela Rosa 4, Wong 3, Reavis 0, Corpuz 0.
Quarters: 26-29, 47-51, 79-70, 100-98