AS JC Intal picked his pocket, went on transition, and gathered for a slam dunk attempt that would’ve salvaged a measure of pride, Charles Rhodes refused to give up on the play, getting back on defense and rising for a chase-down block.
The outstanding defensive play ended up with Alex Cabagnot dishing out to June Mar Fajardo for the two-handed flush on the other end.
It hardly looked like San Miguel Beer was up by 21 points with less than three minutes left then as the Beermen refused to pull their punches on the way to a 115-96 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday to advance to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
Marcio Lassiter and Cabagnot led the early onslaught before Rhodes and Fajardo put on the finishing touches as the twice-to-beat Beermen eliminated the Fuel Masters in just one game in the quarterfinals.
“We’re happy to meet the expectations of so many people,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “I have to commend the players because they know what’s at stake. They wanted to get into the semifinals right away.”
SMB is now waiting for the survivor of the Star-Rain or Shine best-of-three series that the Hotshots are leading, 1-0.
Lassiter scattered 11 of his a game-high 26 points, which was built around five triples, in the opening period as the SMB sniper completed an all-around effort with four boards, three assists, two steals, and only one turnover in 38 minutes.
Cabagnot showed why he’s the Best Player of the Conference race frontrunner as he added 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Fajardo finished with 15 points, eight boards, and two blocks, while Rhodes chipped in 14 points, 11 caroms, and four blocks.
Chris Ross orchestrated the show with 11 points, 10 assists, seven boards, and three steals, while Ronald Tubid led the bench crew with 14 points on three treys in 20 minutes for the Beermen, who led by as many 28 points in the first half.
Jameel Mckay showed the way for the Fuel Masters with 20 points, 13 boards, three assists, one steal, and one block, but found little help from the locals as they saw their campaign come to an end.
SMB 115 – Lassiter 26, Cbagnot 20, Fajardo 15, Rhodes 14, Tubid 14, Ross 11, Santos 8, Espinas 4, McCarthy 3, Heruela 0, Reyes 0, Agovida 0
PHOENIX 96 – McKay 20, Jazul 14, Intal 12, Alolino 11, Wright 9, Baguio 7, Eriobu 6, J. Wilson 6, Miranda 4, Dehesa 3, Hayes 2, Lanete 2, Torres 0, Borboran 0, W.Wilson 0, Kramer 0
Quarterscores: 28-21, 57-37, 88-69, 115-96