San Miguel Beer continues to rise while uncertainty lingers for the Star Hotshots

SMB 100 – Star 89

Everything that the San Miguel Beermen could hope for in a big game happened last night against the Star Hotshots.

June Mar Fajardo, SMB’s franchise player, was in full-on Kraken mode as he unleashed 21 points and 20 rebounds. He only took 11 shots but he made seven of them, playing an all-around efficient game. Aside from Fajardo, Arizona Reid was on fire, hitting bucket after bucket en route to 29 points. The trio of Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, and Chris Ross also contributed mightily for the Beermen.

SMB had Fajardo going, Reid on fire, and the team clicking as a whole. For the last three games, they played to their potential – exploiting Fajardo’s advantage in the painted area and knocking down perimeter shots when things got tricky down in the post. The Beermen also won the battle of the boards last night against the formidable Hotshots frontline, 57-39, thanks largely to Fajardo.

In a battle of title contenders, the Beermen were on point for most of the night while the Star Hotshots were always a step too late.

PBA - San Miguel Beer vs Purefoods Star - May 24, 2015 - 1

Marqus Blakely had 29 points and 15 boards but they were clearly not enough to out-muscle the Beermen. Even though Mark Barroca finally had a breakout game, playing 36 minutes and scoring 15 points, it still wasn’t the same old Hotshots.

It wasn’t really a lack of effort, but it was more of simply struggling against a better and younger team. The Hotshots had no firepower to counter Fajardo’s post play. They couldn’t score on him and they couldn’t defend him on the other end. It was weird seeing Joe Devance, Marc Pingris, and Mick Pennisi all trying to contain the Kraken but failing to do so.

The Hotshots looked old, weary, and were simply outplayed by the Beermen. Not even all the absurd and atrocious calls last night could fire them up. Even after Arwind Santos was ejected last night, the Hotshots weren’t able to capitalize. Despite the no-calls or wrong calls that went on them or against San Miguel, there wasn’t a single moment when you could say to yourself that the Hotshots were going to win the game.

We have yet to see old Purefoods team in full capacity and there’s a growing and hushed concern that we might never see them at full might again. I won’t say that they’ve lost their touch already, but if they if don’t get their act together soon, their plunge down the standings might not be arrested in time.

SMB clearly has their groove going while the Hotshots have more questions than answers in the early going of this conference.

Photos by KC Cruz