AS he swatted away Stanley Pringle’s fastbreak layup attempt late in the payoff period, Charles Rhodes approached the GlobalPort shooting guard and added insult to injury by doing his trademark celebratory gesture right in his victim’s face.
But the San Miguel Beer import then tapped the back of Pringle’s head as if to say, “Nice try.”
That summed up the swagger San Miguel Beer showed against GlobalPort on Friday as it rolled to 112-101 victory to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Beermen put up a great start and a strong finishing kick as they avoided complications that would’ve seen them drop to as low as fourth spot in a best-of-three series.
Rhodes registered 34 points and five boards to lead the Beermen, who wound up with their ninth win in 11 games to head into the postseason brimming with confidence, while snapping the Batang Pier’s win run at two games to finish the eliminations at 4-7, a record that’s still puts them in contention.
“Finally, we’re able to solve our first-quarter, game because last game, very bad yung start namin,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “We had a good start and we were the ones who set up the tone.
“They knew the urgency of this team,” he added.
The Beermen will face either Phoenix or GlobalPort in the first round of the playoffs depending on the result of the Ginebra-Mahindra matchup in the main game of the day’s doubleheader, the result of which will also determine which team between Alaska and Phoenix will GlobalPort face in the playoff for the eighth seed.
Chris Ross again proved why he’s an emerging two-way player as he led the locals in scoring with 17 points along with seven assists, six boards, and two steals, against only one turnover in 38 minutes.
June Mar Fajardo added 15 points, eight boards, and three assists in 27 minutes off the bench, while Alex Cabagnot chipped in a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards on top of two assists.
Justin Harper led the Batang Pier with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Terrence Romeo and Pringle added 21 points apiece in a losing cause.
SMB 112 – Rhodes 34, Ross 17, Fajardo 15, Cabagnot 13, Lassiter 13, Santos 13, Reyes 4, Tubid 3, Heruela 0, Espinas 0
GLOBALPORT 101 – Harper 25, Pringle 21, Romeo 21, Guinto 11, Anthony 9, Pessumal 5, Cortez 4, Ababou 3, Grey 2, Forrester 0, Pennisi 0, Maierhofer 0, Mamaril 0, Paredes 0
Quarterscores: 32-21, 51-46, 77-72, 112