THERE was no fooling around for San Miguel Beer on April Fools’ Day, turning it up when it mattered to roll to a 111-87 victory and gain control of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Rejuvenated by a Holy Week mini break, the Beermen flipped the switch from a nip-and-tuck battle in the payoff period where they banked on a backbreaking run to win for their second straight game and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Marcio Lassiter and June Mar Fajardo spearheaded the attack, while Brian Heruala and Gabby Espinas provided a huge spark off the bench of the Beermen as they denied the Hotshots a resurrection on Easter Sunday.
“I think yung one-week break worked in our favor, and we're able to recharge and to focus and recuperate from minor injuries, especially Marcio and Chris Ross who are suffering a lot of bangaan inside,” SMB coach Leo Austria said.
“The key here is we're able to match their energy,” he added. “Lampas-lampas pa nga, that is because of our second unit. At the start of the fourth quarter, sila ang nag-trabaho that's why I opted to let them stay until the last few minutes.”
The Beermen can move on the verge of a historic fourth straight all-Filipino title with a win in Game Four on Wednesday night also at the Big Dome.
Stuck in a see-saw battle with the Hotshots, the Beermen scored 15 unanswered points in the middle of the payoff period, highlighting a 26-9 run overall from the start of the quarter that took the fight out of the Hotshots.
Lassiter sparked the blowout, firing five of SMB’s 13 triples, on the way to scoring a game-high 24 points, along with six boards, five steals, two assists, and one block in 37 minutes.
Arwind Santos was also part of the long-range sniping – his first and only triple giving the Beermen their biggest lead at 101-77 with three minutes and 31 seconds left in the game
Fajardo added 21 points, 17 rebounds, and two assists in just 33 minutes as the reigning MVP had the luxury to rest the entire fourth period where the Beermen showed they can managed without him.
Heruela scored in double digits for the second straight game, finishing with 11 markers, along with two boards in 22 minutes as he led the bench mob along with Gabby Espinas, who chipped in nine points, two boards, and two assists in 19 minutes.
Mark Barroca led the Beermen with 22 points, four assists, three steals, two assists, and one block, while Paul Lee added 15 points, seven assists, and three boards, but didn’t finish the game due to a hand injury.
SMB 111 — Lassiter 24, Fajardo 21, Ross 14, Santos 14, Heruela 11, Espinas 9, Cabagnot 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 5, Pessumal 4, Semerad 2, Vigil 2, Lanete 0, Mamaril 0
MAGNOLIA 87 — Barroca 22, Lee 15, Ramos 12, Simon 10, Dela Rosa 6, Gamalinda 6, Jalalon 6, Sangalang 6, Brondial 0, Herndon 0, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0
Quarterscores: 29-22, 50-49, 75-68, 111-87