The Beermen were without import Gabe Freeman, who served his one-game suspension in this match-up. Chris Banchero and Matt Rogers stepped up with monster games and finished with 21 points apiece. Rogers also recorded 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
The Dragons pulled ahead first and grabbed the biggest lead in the first quarter on a three pointer by Ooi Ban Sin with 2:34 on the clock. The Beermen's Ricardo Cawaling and Matt Rogers immediately answered with back to back threes which cut the deficit to just one. The Beermen trailed by only one point heading into the second quarter at 19 to 20.
The Beermen began their ascent in the second quarter with a 7-0 run capped by another three from Cawaling. The Dragons were only able to get on the scoresheet close to the mid-way point from a basket by Gavin Edwards that brought them in at 22 to 27. A pair of free throws by Tautuaa sliced the deficit to just 3 points but Leo Avenido immediately put in a basket to give the Beermen back a 5 point lead.
A huge three from R.J. Rizada increased the gap between the teams to 36-28 with two minutes left until the half. In the dying seconds, a Justin Melton steal off Banchero which he converted brought the Dragons back to within six points as the halftime score read 36 to 30 for the Beermen.
Avenido started off the second half with a basket, setting the pace for the Beermen who pulled away with a 9 point lead at 44 to 35 off a Banchero free throw with 7:36 still left in the third quarter. Rizada then sank a three at the mid-way point and increased the Beermen lead further at 49 to 38. The Dragons struggled from the field and despite closing the quarter with a pair of free throws from Monroe and a shot by Edwards, trailed 46 to 57 heading into the final minutes of the game.
Faced with an 11 point deficit and only ten minutes left to play, the Dragons started off the fourth period with a basket by Melton that brought them in within a single digit difference. Then Tautuaa made an important steal that was converted by Edwards which brought them in to just 4 points with 6:25 left in the quarter.
That was the closest the Dragons got however as the Beermen were unstoppable and answered immediately with back to back baskets from Thiele and Banchero. They then went on a 9 point run capped by another basket from Banchero that earned them a 15 point lead with only 2:18 remaining in the game. At the buzzer, the Beermen earned the 77 to 66 win in front of a supportive home crowd.
The Dragons struggled to find the basket this afternoon and managed just 36% from the field and 22% from beyond the arc. Edwards was still the highest scorer in the game with 22 points and 16 rebounds followed by Tautuaa's 17. Monroe and Melton were limited to a combined 18 points.
The San Miguel Beermen travel to Jakarta, Indonesia to face the Indonesia Warriors for next week's ABL Friday Basketball match-up at the Tennis Indoor Senayan stadium on the 8th of March for the 1900hr/2000hr tip-off.
The Westports Malaysia Dragons will return home to MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they welcome the JobStreet.com Singapore Slingers on Sunday the 10th of March for a 1500hr local/HKT tip-off.
Quarter scoring: Q1(19-20) Q2(17-10) Q3(21-16) Q4(20-20)
Full-Time: Beerman 77- 66 Dragons
Beermen: Banchero - 21, Rogers - 21, Rizada - 10, Cawaling - 6, Avenido - 6, Taulava - 6, Thiele - 4, Hubalde - 3.
Dragons: Edwards - 22, Tautuaa - 17, Monroe - 12, Melton - 6, Ng - 3, Ooi - 3, Loh - 3.