Red-hot San Miguel makes it 11 wins in row after breezing past TNT in semis opener
Marcio Lassiter sparked the SMB blowout with 12 points in the first quarter. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer picked up from where it left off as it cruised past TNT Katropa, 111-98, to take Game One of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen zoomed to an early lead and kept their foot on the gas pedal as they left the Texters in the dust on the way to the wire-to-wire victory - their 11th in a row dating back to the elims - at the start of the best-of-seven series.

Marcio Lassiter sparked the blowout, firing 12 of his team-high 22 points in the first quarter, while four more players scored at least 13 points each for the Beermen, who stretched their winning streak to 11 games.

“Very important yung first win in any series,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “I was a little bit worried, dahil ten consecutive game (na ang panalo) and parang nafe-feel ko na sooner or later, matatalo kami.”

“But buti hindi pa nangyayari,” he added. “I’m happy to see them nan age-enjoy sa game. They’re playing like an orchestra dahil alam na nila ang mga role nila.”

Game Two of the best-of-seven series is on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Beermen certainly played in unison from the get-go as they built an early 18-point lead in the first half where they knocked down 12 of their 16 three-pointers.

The back-to-back defending champions maintained the double-digit cushion throughout the game, never allowing the Texters to come closer than seven points in the final frame.

June Mar Fajardo was dominant in the low block as usual, finishing with 21 points, eight boards, one block, and one assist in 38 minutes, while Alex Cabagnot was the other player who reached the 20-point mark and added six boards and one assist.

Arwind Santo added 15 points and six boards, while Gabby Espinas proved efficient off the bench with 13 points, four rebounds, and two blocks in 13 minutes.

Jayson Castro attacked the SMB defense and finished with a game-high 27 points 11-of-17 shooting, eight assists, three steals, and two rebounds, while Kelly Williams continued his resurgent play with 24 points and five boards in 25 minutes.

But TNT found little production elsewhere aside from Mo Tatuaa, who add 11 points and seven boards in 22 minutes.


The scores:

SMB 111 – Lassiter 22, Fajardo 21, Cabagnot 20, Santos 15, Espinas 13, Garcia 9, Tubid 6, Ross 5, McCarthy 0, Agovida 0, Y. De Ocampo 0

TNT 98 – Castro 27, Williams 24, Tautuaa 11, Ganuelas-Rosser 10, R. De Ocampo 7, Fonacier 7, Pogoy 6, Reyes 4, Seigle 2, Rosario 0, Carey 0, Golla 0, Sumalinog 0, Rosales 0


Quarterscores: 32-16, 56-46, 83-73, 111-98

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos