THERE were neither huge leads nor relatively dominant performances from June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos. Yet it was the same result for San Miguel.
The Beermen delivered when it mattered to once again frustrate Talk ‘N Text, 87-81, and gain a 2-0 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Showing he was getting more comfortable with his new-old team, Alex Cabagnot spearheaded the Beermen with 21 points, three boards, and one assist off the bench.
Fajardo, the reigning MVP and front-running Best Player of the Conference award candidate, was shackled in the early goings, but still finished with a double-double of 15 points and 12 boards as the Beermen withstood a tough stand by the Tropang Texters after outclassing them in Game One.
“Fortunately we were able to get this one,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said. “We knew they were going to bounce back, but my players did not give up. The good thing is their composure is always there.”
Game Three is on Tuesday.
Eager to level the best-of-seven series, the Texters came out with a renewed energy in the second half, establishing control in the third quarter and threatening in the final frame.
But in the end, it was still a powerhouse Beermen side that prevailed as they flashed their depth with six players scoring at least seven points.
Limited to five points in the first three quarters in the face of the Texters’ triple-teaming defense, Fajardo scattered 10 in the payoff period, including eight from the charity stripe, while Santos wound up with just 10 points, seven boards, and two assists.
In their limited production, Cabagnot, after involving his teammates in his first game back, became more aggressive this time, firing 14 of his output in the first half.
Jayson Castro led the Texters’ rally by scoring eight of his 24 points in the final frame.
SMB 87 – Cabagnot 21, Fajardo 15, Lutz 14, Santos 10, Lassiter 8, Tubid 7, Fortuna 5, Pascual 3, Maierhofer 2, Ross 2, Kramer 0, Omolon 0, Chua 0, Semerad 0.
TNT 81 – Castro 26, Washington 17, Rosser 11, De Ocampo 10, Carey 6, Fonacier 4, Aban 3, Williams 2, Seigle 2, Alapag 0, Alas 0, Reyes R.J. 0, Reyes R. 0, Espiritu 0
Quarterscores: 25-19, 41-40, 63-61, 87-81