The Phoenix Fuel Masters again roughed up June Mar Fajardo in Game 2 of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals with Calvin Abueva, Justin Chua, Doug Kramer, and Dave Marcelo taking turns defending the reigning five-time MVP. Fajardo saw double and triple teams on nearly every play and Phoenix succeeded in limiting Fajardo to just one point in the second period.
All the attention on Fajardo only opened up opportunities for the Beermen's other stars who stepped up as San Miguel held on for a 92-82 win and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross put the finish touches to the victory. Lassiter, who finished with a team-high 24 points, sealed the win with six straight points.
"We knew coming at the half that we weren't playing the way we wanted to play. We just had to play the San Miguel way," Lassiter said. "We felt we could feed off the energy of the crowd. That was a really good push for us."
Phoenix had a tough time shutting down Fajardo. Abueva fouled out with still 1:37 remaining, while Chua, Kramer, and Marcelo got into foul trouble. Despite being hounded the entire game, Fajardo still put up 19 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks.
Terrence Romeo contributed 14 points while Ross and Cabagnot combined for 15 markers for the Beermen.
"We push ourselves everyday in practice. Each player on our team can step up. A lot of guys stepped up today," Lassiter said.
Both teams will have enough time to rest as the league takes a break in observance of the Holy Week, with the series resuming on Sunday.
"It's not over yet. We need two wins. It's gonna be a dog fight. It's gonna be a physical series, we can't be complacent. We have to come out on Sunday locked and loaded," added Lassiter.
San Miguel 92 - Lassiter 24, Fajardo 19, Romeo 14, Cabagnot 8, Pessumal 8, Santos 7, Ross 7, Tubid 3, Standhardinger 2, Rosser 0, Nabong 0.
Phoenix 82 - Abueva 16, Wright 13, Perkins 12, Chua 12, Jazul 12, Mallari 8, Intal 4, Marcelo 2, Kramer 2, Mendoza 1.
Quarterscores: 13-21, 37-46, 63-63, 92-82.
Christian Standhardinger was ejected at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter after getting a flargrant foul penalty 2 for allegedly hitting Calvin Abueva in the face and groin.
Phoenix's defense was on point from the get-go, limiting the Beermen to 13 points in the opening period.
Phoenix was sharing the ball well in the first half, dishing out 22 assists. But things changed in the last 24 minutes of action as the Fuel Masters generated only five dimes.
Game 3 is on Sunday, April 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.