ANTIPOLO – San Miguel Beer again showed it was more than just a June Mar Fajardo show as it eliminated Rain or Shine with a 98-91 decision at the Ynares Center to advance to the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
Weapons were aplenty for the Beermen, foremost was RR Garcia who registered a game-high 25 points highlighted by five treys in just 25 minutes off the bench as Fajardo didn’t have to carry most of the load for the Beermen to prevail.
Chris Ross also came through on offense in a rare occurrence by scoring all but one of his 13 points in the first half, before Arwind Santos took over down the stretch and also finished with 13 markers for the Beermen, who registered a 10th straight victory.
SMB also took the E-Painters out of their misery after their opponents failed in four chances to clinch an outright postseason berth, having to go through a playoff to catch quarterfinal bus.
“They’re really a contender. We had a hard time beating them. They kept on catching up,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “But unfortunately for them, my players really wanted to win.”
The Beermen are now waiting for the winner of the TNT Katropa-GlobalPort quarterfinal pairing.
SMB didn’t have to burn its twice-to-beat advantage as it enjoyed a sizeable cushion throughout by turning to the offensive punch of Ross and Garcia, even with Fajardo’s touches limited in the first half.
Fajardo, the Best Player of the Conference race frontrunner, still finished with 14 points on just nine attempts, 14 boards, and one block in 37 minutes.
Beau Belga paced the E-Painters with 18 points off the bench, the last two on a fallaway over Fajardo that nudged his team to within five points, 94-89, with a little over a minute left before the Beermen held on.
James Yap added nine points on just 3-of-10 shooting, and seven boards, while Jericho Cruz chipped in just four points on 2-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes.
SMB 98 - Garcia 25, Fajardo 14, Sntos 13, Ross 13, Lassiter 11, Espinas 10, Cabagnot 9, Tubid 3, De Ocampo 0.
Rain or Shine 91 - Belga 18, Washington 16, Norwood 14, Ahanmisi 12, Ponferada 10, Yap 9, Chan 6, Cruz 4, Matias 2, Tolomia 0, Tiu 0, Trollano 0.
Quarterscores: 28-21, 51-38, 74-67, 98-91