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SMBeer cruises past Nlex into QF


Nlex coach Yeng Guiao talked about his mid-conference rebuilding as part of his plans for the future, but San Miguel Beer could claim it owns the present as the Beermen outhustled the Road Warriors, 114-108, last night to make its formal entry into the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner's Cup at the Astrodome.
The final outcome did not speak much about the Beermen's overall dominance as they claimed their sixth victory in seven outings. But it did reveal a bright future ahead for Guiao and his Road Warriors, who were beefed up for this match by new acquisition JR Quiñahan and recent recruit Alex Mallari.
The Road Warriors tabbed Quiñahan in a four-team multi-player deal that also netted a still injured Larry Fonacier who sat out the match.
Nlex, out of the quarter-finals picture already, still absorbed their ninth straight defeat after giving away Sean Anthony, Bradwyn Guinto, Garvo Lanete, Glen Khobuntin and Eric Camson.
But Guiao sees a more complete Road Warriors this time.
"These veteran players will add leadership to my team," he said prior to the match.
And they did.
While Nlex import Wayne Chism topscored for the Road Warriors with 22 points and Rabeh Al-Hussaini exploded in the second half and scored 18 points, Quiñahan matched Carlo Lastimosa's 12 points and Mallari had 11 in their failed effort to turn the game around after chasing the Beermen who claimed as many as a 19-point lead, 62-43, very early in the third quarter.
The Beermen only needed to waste time in the closing minutes, confident the Road Warriors would no longer be able to mount a comeback despite losing big man and back-to-back Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo on fouls.
Fajardo still contributed 12 points for the Beermen in all 30 minutes inside the court, not his usual number as SMB Coach Leo Austria tried to balance his wards' roles to give him enough rest after playing for the Gilas Pilipinas squad which won the Seaba Championship last Thursday night.
It was import Charles Rhodes who exploded for San Miguel.
Rhodes topscored for San Miguel with 37 points, 20 of which he delivered during a hot first half explosion which saw San Miguel break the game wide open via a 17-2 exchange that gave the Beermen a 36-22 lead after trailing 20-19.
The Beermen never looked back after that as Rhodes dunked and even scored a trey almost at will in the second quarter.
He received support from the rest of his teammates, but especially from Arwind Santos who sank back-to-back treys, and Fajardo who broke Nlex inside defense when needed.
Together, they built their biggest lead bridging the second and third quarters before cruising to the win despite repeated rallies by the Road Warriors to successfully recover from their lone 103-112 defeat to Talk 'N Text last May 5.

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