SAN Miguel Beer woke up from a deep stupor to complete a fightback from an 18-point deficit against Air21, 93-85, and grab the No. 2 seeding in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen outscored Air21, 38-12, in the fourth quarter behind Chris Ross, who presided over a big defensive effort that disrupted the flow of the Express' offense and allowed San Miguel to get easy points in transition.
The six-foot Ross finished with nine points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals, all in the final period, as the Beermen wrapped up their elimination round with a 7-2 (win-loss) record - enough to guarantee the team a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
“We really struggled shooting tonight,” admitted San Miguel active consulant Todd Purves. “I thought we had some great looks early on in the game and missed shots we normally make. But we can’t make a poor shooting night affect the other things we do in the game.”
Arwind Santos also heated up in the final period where he scored 10 of his 18 points, while import Kevin Jones, June Mar Fajardo and backup forward Rico Maierhofer chipped in as well.
San Miguel's 38 points is the most scored in a quarter this conference, and the second highest this season since Meralco pumped in 41 points in the final period to beat Air21, 109-98.
Air21 finished the eliminations with three straight losses to drop to 3-6, their playoff position now hinging on the outcome of the Rain or Shine-Ginebra match on Easter Sunday.
Ginebra, which is parading Gabe Freeman as its third import this conference in lieu of Josh Powell, is gunning for an all-important win that could propel the Gin Kings to the sixth seeding and a best-of-three quarterfinal series.
A Ginebra win will also drop Air21 to the No. 8 position and a quarterfinal pairing against unbeaten top seed Talk 'N Text.
San Miguel 93 – Jones 19, Santos 18, Lassiter 17, Fajardo 15, Ross 9, Maierhofer 5, Tubid 4, Hubalde 4, Kramer 2, Lanete 0, Lutz 0.
Air21 85 – Witherspoon 27, Anthony 14, Camson 12, Taulava 9, Yeo 7, Cardona 7, Poligrates 4, Villanueva 2, Ramos 2, Burtscher 1, Borboran 0.
Quarterscores: 19-16, 35-39, 55-72, 93-85