THE team that was halfway through reaching the Promised Land played like it was on the brink of elimination.
San Miguel Beer surprisingly showed a stronger sense of urgency down the stretch to send Alaska reeling to a 96-89 defeat and into a virtually insurmountable hole in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
AZ Reid came through in the clutch anew on the way to scattering a personal-best-tying 41 points to lead the Beermen, who took a 3-0 series lead to move on the verge of a second championship this season.
It was a disappointing defeat for the Aces, who led entering and early in the fourth quarter only to fold in the endgame, falling into a situation where no team in a best-of-seven series has ever overcome.
“Wala na ako masasabi dito. Ang mga players ko talaga ang nag-trabaho dito,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said. “They just refused to lose.”
The Beermen can finish the Aces off in Game Four on Friday also at the Big Dome.
June Mar Fajardo proved to be a force down low anew, tallying 14 points, 19 boards, three assists, and one block, while Alex Cabagnot added 13 points, five boards, and three assists, and Arwind Santos chipped in eight points and eight boards as he made crucial stops in the endgame.
But it was Reid who shone brightest anew as the prolific SMB import fired 11 of his output in the final frame, including five straight, the last on right-wing three-pointer that gave the Beermen a 91-85 lead with a little less than four minutes to go.
Romeo Travis was held to just 17 points as the supposed Best Import settled for jumpers that failed to find their marks in the endgame.
Marcio Lassiter put the SMB on top for good after he knocked down a mid-range jumper that maede it 86-85 at the 5:34 mark.
The Beermen gave the defensive-minded Aces a dose of their own medicine, holding their victims scoreless in a span of more than five minutes in the middle of the payoff period and just 12 the entire quarter.
SMB 96 – Reid 41, Fajardo 14, Cabagnot 13, Lassiter 8, Santos 8, Espinas 6, Lutz 2, Tubid 2, Semerad 2, Ross 0
ALASKA 89 – Travis 17, Abueva 15, Thoss 12, Banchero 8, Casio 7, Manuel 6, Dela Rosa 6, Baguio 5, Exciminiano 4, Menk 4, Hontiveros 3, Jazul 2, Dela Cruz 0
Quarterscores: 25-21, 48-52, 76-77, 96-89