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    SMB a win away from finals after hard-earned Game 5 win over Meralco

    Aug 12, 2022
    CJ Perez Meralco SMB
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    SAN Miguel moved on the cusp of a return trip to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals after an 89-78 Game 5 victory over Meralco on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    A third-quarter turnaround instigated by Jericho Cruz and CJ Perez allowed the Beermen to regain control of the match after trailing 44-41 at the break.

    [See Magnolia avoids elimination with Game 5 win over TNT]

    Cruz and Perez had nine each during that stretch before Rodney Brondial came through in the stretch to preserve the win after the Bolts made a late game rally.

    San Miguel now holds a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series to move closer to making the all-Filipino finals for the first time since 2019.

    "The third quarter was pivotal," coach Leo Austria pointed out after a game where the Beermen shot 55 percent from the floor while holding Meralco to 28 percent shooting.

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      "What happened was we just ran the plays we're running before and the kind of defense we did not adjust."

      Perez finished with a team-high 25 points and added nine rebounds and five assists while Cruz had 17 points and sparked a 13-0 run that gave San Miguel a 59-50 cushion after trailing by four early in the third period.

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      The Beermen's lead reached as big as 71-56.

      CJ Perez

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      But the Bolts battled their way back in the final quarter behind Chris Newsome and Aaron Black and were just within 78-76 with still 3:08 to play after Allein Maliksi's fourth and final triple for the night.

      Brondial however, scored all of his five points in a 9-0 blast by San Miguel that widened the lead back to double digits, 87-76.

      Newsome led the Bolts with 24 points, six rebounds, and four assists, but committed seven turnovers.

      Cliff Hodge

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      The scores:

      San Miguel (89) - Perez 24, Cruz 17, Fajardo 12, Tautuaa 9, Enciso 8, Manuel 6, Lassiter 5, Brondial 5, Ross 0, Herndon 0.

      Meralco (78) - Newsome 24, Maliksi 12, Hodge 11, Quinto 11, Almazan 8, Black 6, Pascual 2, Banchero 2, Hugnatan 2, Jose 0, Baclao 0.

      Quarterscores: 25-22; 41-44; 67-56; 89-78.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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