SAN Miguel Beer reaffirmed its status as the favorite in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, cruising to a 92-77 victory to tie their series at one game apiece on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Stung by a 105-103 loss in the series opener, the Beermen established another sizeable lead that the protected to the very end this time to restore order in the best-of-seven series heading to a one-week Holy Week break.
Arwind Santos typified the hot shooting, firing 24 points built around six triples, to lead the Beermen in a balanced attack that made up for sub-par offensive game from June Mar Fajardo.
“I think we’ve learned our lesson from last game,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “I have to give credit to the players, talagang ayaw nila magpatalo.”
“I'm happy to tie the series going to the Holy Week, we have a lot of time to adjust and to know what to do next,” he added.
The title playoff won't return until Easter Sunday for Game Three.
Reminiscent of Game One, the Beermen built another lead of at least 20 points, erecting a 71-50 cushion in the third quarter, before allowing the Hotshots make a comeback that saw them nudge to within seven points, 75-68 with over eight minutes left in the payoff period.
But the Beermen refused to budge this time, finishing the game on a 17-4 run to get the series back to square one.
Santos made nine of his 17 shots overall for a solid 52.9 percent, collecting eight rebounds two blocks, and one assist, against four turnovers with less than four minutes of rest.
Marcio Lassiter also found the mark from long range with four triples, finishing with 16 points, three boards, one assist, and one block in almost 40 minutes.
Alex Cabagnot put up another all-around game after flirting with a triple-double last game, adding 15 points, eight assists, five boards, and one steal in 38 minutes, while Fajardo finished with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting, although he added 13 boards, three assists, and three lbokcs in 39 minutes.
Brian Heruela provided the bench spark that was missing in Game One, chipping in 10 points, three steals, and one block in just 15 minutes.
SMB 92 — Santos 24, Lassiter 16, Cabagnot 15, Fajardo 12, Heruela 10, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, Ross 5, Mamaril 4, De Ocampo 0, Vigil 0
MAGNOLIA 77 — Barroca 18, Lee 13, Sangalang 11, Dela Rosa 7, Ramos 7, Jalalon 6, Pascual 4, Reavis 4, Brondial 3, Herndon 2, Simon 2, Mendoza 0
Quarterscores: 19-17, 48-35, 75-57, 92-77