SAN Miguel Beer unleashed CJ Perez on NLEX and romped off with a bounceback 110-93 win Friday night in the 46th PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Perez, the Beermen's celebrated trade acquisition in the off-season, exploded with 21 as he stepped up in the absence of injured guard Terrence Romeo and helped SMB to its maiden victory of 2021 after yielding an 87-93 season debut loss to Meralco.
The two-time PBA scoring champion rifled in 13 in the second quarter, including back-to-back triples that stretched the Beermen's lead to 22 at 56-34.
But Perez was just one head in a multi-headed attack by SMB.
Six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, playing only his second game coming from a year-long layoff due to fractured shin, delivered a 14-10 double-double in 24 minutes.
Alex Cabagnot shot 17, Mo Tautuaa banged in 16 plus nine rebounds, Marcio Lassiter had 14 and Von Pessumal chipped in 10 as they joined the concerted effort to chalk up this one despite Romeo sitting it out due to knee injury.
"That's how basketball is supposed to be - it's not just one who's out there, we all got to come out and play," said Tautuaa, who anchored SMB's initial 10-3 blast that gave them their first double-digit advantage at 32-22 in the first.
Tautuaa said they're all excited to see Fajardo slowly getting his groove. Fajardo had five markers and five boards in their season opener.
The Beermen avoided getting into a 0-2 hole.
"I'm so thankful to the players, they really played tonight. From start to finish, they played good defense and were focused in the game," said coach Leo Austria.
"They realized the importance of this game. This is a very short tournament - just 11 games (in the elim) - so we can't afford to lose back-to-back," he added.
Kevin Alas (20-6-6) and Kiefer Ravena (16-5-7) showed the way for NLEX, which slipped to 1-2 and failed to catch another big fish after their 94-75 upset of defending champion Barangay Ginebra. (OL)
San Miguel 110 - Perez 21, Cabagnot 17, Tautuaa 16, Lassiter 14, Fajardo 14, Pessumal 10, Santos 9, Zamar 4, Ross 3, Gamalinda 2, Gotladera 0, Comboy 0.
NLEX 93 - Alas 20, Ravena 16, Soyud 15, , Quinahan 9, Paniamogan 8, Oftana 7, Miranda 5, Semerad 5, Cruz 3, Trollano 3, Porter 2, McAloney 0, Ayonayon 0.
Quarterscores : 32-22, 61-44, 88-67, 110-93.