The Petron Blaze Boosters clamped down on defense in the second half to fashion out an 89-83 victory over the San Mig Coffee Mixers on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The victory, their fourth straight, gave the Boosters the top spot in the standings with a 4-1 win-loss record. They did it by limiting the Mixers to just 36 points after the halftime break after giving up 47 in the first two quarters.
“In the end, we just got lucky to have the right combination,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla. “I think that was the key, limiting them to below 20 (in each of the last two quarters).”
Petron import Elijah Millsap won his matchup with San Mig Coffee counterpart Marqus Blakely. Millsap stuffed the stat sheet with 31 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, and six steals, while Blakely finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and five blocks.
Blakely once again struggled from the foul line, making just three out of 12 attempts from the stripe.
June Mar Fajardo was also a solid presence in the paint for Petron, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking three shots apart from scoring eight points.
Abanilla also commended Ronald Tubid for his defense in the fourth quarter on San Mig Coffee’s top guns, as well as Chris Lutz for two crucial offensive rebounds in the final minutes that took the fight out of the Mixers.
James Yap added 14 points and seven rebounds while Marc Pingris finished with five points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks for San Mig Coffee, whose record fell to 1-3.
With his team on a hot streak, Abanilla cautioned against looking too far ahead.
“We just want to take it one game at a time,” he said. “Right now our objective is to improve every game and peak at the right moment.”