By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
Despite the best efforts of Slinger favourite Kyle Jeffers, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds, the Beermen rode to victory on Sunday in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) on the back of point guard Chris Banchero's 16 points, five assists and four steals.
It was a physical encounter which boiled over with 4:14 left in the third quarter when Beermen Gabe Freeman tangled with Singaporean guard Desmond Oh. Jeffers then intervened and had to be separated from Freeman as tempers flared between the two Americans.
The pair would exchange verbals for the rest of the game although it would be Freeman who had the last say as he nailed a three point shot late in the game to ultimately seal the double digit margin of victory.
Freeman, who had strained his knee in practice last week, was not part of Beermen coach Leo Austria's starting five.
And it was the Filipinos who found themselves down 7-2 early in the first quarter thanks to five straight points from Slinger Mitchell Folkoff - it would turn out to be his only points of the match.
The Beermen responded - much to the delight of a huge Filipino turnout at the Indoor Stadium - and went on a big scoring run after Ricardo Cawaling played a delightful lob for the 6"11' debutant Matt Rogers to slam home with authority.
Freeman's fade away bank shot over Jeffers would later establish a 22-12 lead for the Beermen after just one quarter.
The Slingers did their best to spark a second quarter revival with Jeffers and Junjun Cabatu combining for 12 of the home team's 16 points in the period.
But the Beermen kept their 10 point lead intact at the half as Leo Avenido nailed a corner triple before doing well to convert a reverse lay-up with less than two seconds to go to make the score 38-28 to the visitors.
Coach Neo Beng Siang's words at half-time had an effect as the Slingers came out with consecutive buckets from Cabatu and a monster jam from Jeffers to start the third.
However, the Slingers struggled to live with the Beermen's pace in transition - most notably with Banchero on Donald Dulay - and they never managed to get closer than six points to their ABL rivals.
Slingers' sharpshooter Wong Wei Long came off the bench to drain a long three point shot to make it 39-47 and then shortly after came the incident between Freeman and Oh.
The Beermen had taken exception to the pesky defence the Singaporean was playing on their players all game and when Oh's latest attempt left him on the ground and at the feet of Freeman, the American immediately stood over the Slinger in an aggressive manner.
Looking down on Oh, Freeman gestured as though he was going to punch the Slingers guard which eventually led to an angry Jeffers charging towards his fellow American in an effort to defend his team-mate.
Both Freeman and Jeffers had to be separated by team-mates while the referees charged Oh and Freeman with a double foul.
When the basketball finally resumed, Freeman and Jeffers took it in turns to go at each other and so it was not surprising it took just a minute for the two to square up to each other again following an over the back foul by Freeman on Jeffers, who was shooting.
"I haven't been playing this week. I had a strained knee so I was just coming off the bench and trying to give my team what they need," Freeman explained to FOX Sports.
"I know I am not 100% so I got to play the game. If it is talking crap, if that's what I got to do get my team-mates through the game, then that's what I am going to do."
"It's part of basketball."
When asked if Jeffers and him would shake hands later, he said: "No. Probably not."
"But that don't faze me, I am a basketball player."
The back-and-forth between Jeffers and Freeman fired up the Indoor Stadium crowd which actually seemed evenly split.
But it was the Filipinos in attendance who had the most to cheer about as the Beermen started the fourth quarter up 55-42.
A pretty ugly final period by both teams - the Beermen scored 11 points while the Slingers managed 13 points - was all but sealed when Freeman scored his eighth point of the night from a corner three with 2:48 remaining.
The Beermen closed out the 66-55 victory leaving the Slingers to rue what might have been after shooting a paltry 22% (17/79) from the field including just 15% (3/20) from three point range.
Both teams will play the Westports Malaysia Dragons in their next match-ups. The San Miguel Beermen will have the home court advantage when they welcome the Dragons at Ynares Sports Arena, Philippines on the 2nd of March for a 1600hr local/HKT tip-off.
The JobStreet.com Singapore Slingers will take a bit of a break before heading to MABA Stadium, Malaysia for their game against the Dragons on the 10th of March for the 1500hr local/HKT tip-off.
Quarter scoring: Q1(12-22) Q2(16-16) Q3(14-17) Q4(13-11)
Full-Time: Slingers 55-66 Beermen
Slingers: Jeffers - 20, Jones-Jennings - 8, Wei Long - 8, Cabatu - 8, Folkoff - 5, Oh - 4, Dulay - 2.
Beermen: Banchero - 16, Taulava - 10, Rogers - 8, Menk - 8, Freeman - 8, Avenido - 7, Cawaling - 5, Rizada - 4.