If the San Miguel Beermen had a Christmas wishlist, “Someone to replace June Mar Fajardo” would be at the top of the list. 

Compared to their peers, the Beermen weren’t hanging on for dear life in the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, but they needed to work towards securing a spot in the postseason while Fajardo sits out to recover from a fractured hand. Losing the seven-time PBA MVP certainly rattled them, but thankfully, different players stepped up in his absence. 

On December 25, it was Bennie Boatwright’s turn to lead SMB to victory. 

Boatwright recently had a bout with the flu so his team-high 26 points on 26 shots can be chalked up to rust. He did however, contribute in other facets of the game, as the former USC Trojan finished with 16 rebounds and four assists in San Miguel’s 117-96 win over the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters. 

His offensive struggles were not a hindrance to the team, as CJ Perez (20 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and five steals), Terrence Romeo (22 points, eight assists, and two steals), Jericho Cruz (15 points), and Don Trollano (12 points) all finished in double figures and were instrumental to the Beermen’s pivotal 38-point fourth quarter. 


All things considered, Boatwright allows SMB to have the three-pronged attack that they missed with Fajardo out. Yes, Ivan Aska was a fine import during his run with San Miguel, but Boatwright allows the Beermen to utilize a backcourt-centric offense that will give a less-talented frontcourt more space to operate. SMB’s depth at the backcourt means anyone can step up on a given night, but what must remain is the ball movement regardless of who is on the floor. 

San Miguel’s 28 assists in their 117-96 win over the Fuel Masters was well above their average of 21.3 assists per game. The passing led to scoring opportunities inside, with Boatwright finishing with 12 points from inside the 3-point line and five more coming from the free throw line. 

At 6-3, the Beermen have already sealed their playoff fate; what matters now is who they will face in the next round. The Beermen’s next opponents in the Terrafirma Dyip and the Blackwater Bossing won’t be in the postseason so the Beemen have all the opportunities to get the coveted twice-to-beat advantage. It should also give Boatwright some reps needed to get himself accustomed to Philippine basketball. 

Bennie Boatwright may have not had one of his better nights offensively, but he nonetheless gifted the San Miguel Beermen a crucial victory on Christmas Day. There’s a lot to like about that one game and with June Mar Fajardo set to return in a few weeks, there could be something great brewing within SMB.