ABL: Taulava torments Dragons for win

The San Miguel Beermen made it 10 wins in a row in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) with an 80-62 result over the Westports Malaysia Dragons on Friday.

Chris Banchero, San Miguel Beermen

Asi Taulava turned back the clock as the 40-year-old Beerman pounded the Malaysians for 26 points which took the spotlight away from duelling point-guards Chris Banchero and Justin Melton.

The much anticipated clash between Banchero and Melton never materialised with neither of them getting on the scoreboard until the San Miguel point-guard's lovely finger roll in the lane made it 11-12 midway through the first in front of his home crowd.

It took Melton even longer to get off the mark - a single free-throw from him tied things up at 15-15 with three minutes in the period left.

In truth, it was Banchero who had the more productive start with five points as well as three assists in the first quarter.

But the most delicious dime of the game was dealt out by Beermen big-man Brian Williams, who touched on the ball for Justin Williams for the alley oop to edge his team in front late in the period.

B. Williams had a good opening with six points on 2/3 shooting from beyond the arc while Moala Tautuaa's seven points ensured the visitors were only trailing by two heading into the second.

The Dragons started the quarter the stronger with Julius Armon signalling Malaysian intentions with a three to make it 21-22.

Armon then launched a deep pass from near the scorers' table for Marcus Hubbard (15 points) to catch in mid-air and slam down with authority as part of his 10 first half points.

Shortly afterwards, Melton broke free on the fast-break and burned his defender with the dribble between the legs before dishing to Hubbard for the Dragons' import to perform a tomahawk jam - and in the process register a second highlight reel moment from this game.

But the Beermen hung around thanks in part to the tenaciousness and low post moves of Taulava and actually retook the lead on a pair of free throws from Val Acuna.

San Miguel led 35-34 at half-time.

Melton struggled to score in the first half, producing just a single point as the Beermen frequently rotated fresh defenders off the bench to curb his explosiveness but he did contribute in other areas including dishing four assists.

In contrast, San Miguel centre Taulava was finding it increasingly easier to score and he opened his third quarter account with three quick buckets to set a blistering tempo for the home team.

He had 10 points alone in the third as the Beermen went up by as much 13 points at one point.

Armon nailed a three for the Malaysians with 3:32 on the clock to keep his team interested and the teams went into the final period with the Beermen leading 56-46.

The fourth quarter was a war of attrition and in particular J. Williams was a standout defender with two monster blocks on Tautuaa who ended the game disappointingly with only 11 points despite a hot start.

There was a clash of knees between Tautuaa and Banchero in the fourth with the scores 58-50 causing the San Miguel player to leave the game holding his left knee with 7:10 left.

The Fil-Italian guard would return but he probably could have sat out the rest of the game as Taulava continued to dominate inside on his way to 26 points.

And when Hans Thiele (10 points) buried a long jumper the Beermen had extended their lead to 16 points with only 2:49 remaining.

It finished 80-62 for the Beermen who improve to 13-3 atop the ABL standings while the Dragons remain third with a record of 9-8.

Quarter scoring: Q1(21-19) Q2(14-15) Q3(21-12) Q4(24-16)

Full-Time: Beermen 80-62 Dragons

Beermen: Taulava - 26, B. Williams - 13, Avenido - 11, Thiele - 10, J. Williams - 8, Rizada - 5, Banchero - 5, Acuna - 2.

Dragons: Hubbard - 15, Armon - 11, Tautuaa - 11, Edwards - 10, Melton - 5, Ng - 5, Kuppusamy - 3, Batumalai - 2.

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