Alex Cabagnot goes to the basket. (PBA Images)

Defending champion San Miguel Beer leaned on its veterans to snap Alaska’s three-game winning streak, 92-88, Saturday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

The Beermen scored eight of their last 10 points from the free-throw line, with seven coming from Marcio Lassiter, while Chris Ross overcame injuries with key defensive plays down the stretch to produce back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

SMB improved to 3-2 the hard way as Alaska kept the game close in the second half led by rookie big man Barkley Ebona.

But Lassiter, Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos and Mo Tautuaa were able to step up for SMB in a victory that came before a stretch of three games in five days beginning next week.

“I have to give credit to the veterans because they stepped up big and we’re so happy for them because in this stage, it’s very crucial for us,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria.

Cabagnot topscored with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting, Santos produced 17 points and 10 rebounds, Tautuaa posted 16 points, six rebounds and six assists and Lassiter 13 points including a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe.

Ross delivered 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals despite an injured thumb and ailments on his knee and ankle, leaving an imprint with his defense late that made it difficult for Alaska to come back.

Alaska dropped to 3-3 despite sporting a memory from its glorious days with a retro version of uniforms from the team’s Grand Slam run in 1996 under coach Tim Cone and Most Valuable Player Johnny Abarrientos.

The Aces made things interesting in the second half as Ebona scored 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter to take the lead after falling behind 23-9 in the first period.

A layup by Abu Tratter with less than seven minutes left in the fourth put Alaska up 82-80 but SMB responded with eight consecutive charities to regain the driver seat for good.

In the process, Ross made all of his three steals in the final two minutes while the Aces were trying to close in from two six-point deficits.

The scores:

SAN MIGUEL 92 — Cabagnot 19, Santos 17, Tautuaa 16, Lassiter 13, Ross 10, Pessumal 8, Zamar 6, Escoto 2, Mamaril 1, Gamalinda 0.

ALASKA 88 — Ebona 18, Manuel 18, DiGregorio 13, Herndon 12, Tratter 11, Brondial 9, Casio 7, Teng 0, Ahanmisi 0, Galliguez 0, Ayaay 0, Publico 0.

Quarters: 27-17, 41-39, 69-68, 92-88.

Source: Manila Bulletin (