With Fajardo contained, Pessumal goes on career night for San Miguel

MANILA, Philippines – Von Pessumal showed San Miguel Beermen's second unit can do as much damage as their star-studded starting lineup.

With 4-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo contained to a personal conference-low 9 points, Pessumal helped the Beermen take Game 1 of their best-of-7 semifinals series against Barangay Ginebra by firing a career-high 18 points in a 102-90 triumph Friday, March 9. 

The 25-year-old Pessumal scored 13 in the 4th quarter alone to help stymie a Ginebra comeback. He shot a scintillating 70% from the field and buried 4 of his 5 3-point attempts while also grabbing 3 rebounds and issuing two assists off the bench.

But Pessumal said there is "nothing special" with his performance, crediting Fajardo's presence that provides the space he needs to get a shot off. 

"Ang dali ng basketball dito kasi bibigay mo lang kay June Mar sa post, parang 'yung spacing na the team provides, I get open so it's just my job to shoot and knock it down," said Pessumal. 

More than anything, Pessumal said his scoring outburst was just his way of repaying the team's trust. 

Pessumal shared that San Miguel head coach Leo Austria is encouraging him during practice even if he goes on a string of off nights while teammate Chris Ross "doesn't care if I miss 5 in a row, he'll give me the ball if I'm open." 

With the Beermen facing Ginebra again in Game 2 on Sunday, March 11, Pessumal believes the second stringers can provide the same firepower their starting 5 does. 

"If we come in, we have to sustain 'yung level or if possible, bring it higher just so when the starters come back in and close the game, it's easier." – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.