A BLOODIED Arwind Santos and Chris Ross joined hands in a furious fourth-quarter surge as San Miguel Beer ripped Alaska, 100-86 in a bruising Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Santos, who engaged fellow Kapampangan and Alaska forward Calvin Abueva in several skirmishes that left him with a bloodied scalp, opened the fourth quarter with a triple, triggering a game-changing 19-4 tear that snuffed the life out of the Aces.
The win enabled San Miguel to level the best-of-seven series at 1-1 ahead of Game Three set on Sunday.
Outplayed by Abueva in the series opener, Santos bounced back with a vengeance by leading the Beermen’s Game Two attack with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting overall, spiked by three three-pointers.
Chris Lutz added 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, while reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo went 6-of-8 from the field for 15 points to go with 12 boards for the Beermen, who blew a 22-point lead in Game One on the way to an 82-88 overtime defeat.
“Arwind is very important for us because he dictated the tempo of the game for us. Talagang hinarap niya si Abueva, and that’s the big factor,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
Austria also credited playmaker Ross for stepping up and making sure playmakers like JV Casio, RJ Jazul and Chris Banchero won’t be able to set up Alaska’s big men with their entry pass.
The physicality of the game appeared to have thrown Alaska out of its rhythm, something Alaska coach Alex Compton did not deny.
“I know coach Leo. I know he’s brilliant, he did a good job, they did (found a hole on our defense), so we had some more breakdowns, but the cheap shots made us lose our focus. Now we have to be smart on that,” said Compton, whose team was assessed 32 fouls in the game compared to San Miguel’s 23.
Abueva and Santos were slapped with a double foul during a highly physical rebound battle in the third period while Vic Manuel was assessed with a flagrant foul penalty 1 during the second half for wrapping his arm around the neck of San Miguel rookie David Semerad during a rebound battle.
Austria explained that the physicality of the series is a given, knowing that both teams want to win the all-Filipino title.
“Everybody wants to win kaya nagiging physical ang laro, but this time, we prevailed, and I’m happy for the players because they did not give up,” he added.
Sonny Thoss led Alaska with 16 points but only had a solitary rebound, while Abueva narrowly missed a double-double after finishing with 11 points and nine boards. 'The Beast,' however, shot just 3-of-10 overall in the game.
San Miguel 100 - Santos 22, Lutz 20, Fajardo 15, Ross 12, Semerad 10, Lassiter 8, Cabagnot 7, Omolon 2, Pascual 2, Tubid 2, Kramer 0, Fortuna 0, Chua 0.
Alaska 86 - Thoss 16, Casio 14, Baguio 13, Abueva 11, Hontiveros 8, Banchero 7, Jazul 5, Menk 4, Dela Cruz 4, Eman 2, Manuel 2, Eximiniano 0.
Quarterscores: 32-28; 51-48; 72-70; 11-86