SAN Miguel Beer picked the best time to prove the team can win without June Mar Fajardo as it held off a similarly shorthanded Rain or Shine, 90-82, to close out their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen lost the reigning MVP early in the third quarter to a knee injury, but used it as motivation to stand their ground and finish off the Elasto Painters after overhauling a double-digit deficit in Game Six and set up a finals rematch with Alaska.
Game One of the title series is on Sunday also at the Big Dome.
“We’re happy with the win, but sad that June Mar’s hurt,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “Everybody stepped up.”
Marcio Lassiter was hardly on target outside and took it closer instead to still finish with a gaem-high 22 points, while Arwind Santos added 15 points and 19 boards. But it was Gabby Espinas and Yancy de Ocampo who filled the void left by Fajardo with timely baskets in the third.
Fajardo finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Painters, already without Raymond Almazan, missed star Paul Lee, who aggravated his knee injury. Still, ROS stayed within striking distance and even took a 15-point lead at one point.
Yet the Painters failed to capitalize when Fajardo came out with seven minutes in the third canto as they lost their cushion.
The Painters still managed to come to within 84-79 late in the game, but missed charities at crunch time and committed defensive lapses to surrender the result.
Beau Belga led ROS with 16 points in a losing effort.
San Miguel 90 - Lassiter 22, Santos 15, Fajardo 14, Espinas 9, Ross 8, Cabagnot 6, Tubid 6, Arana 4, De Ocampo 4, Lutz 2.
Rain or Shine 82 - Belga 16, Norwood 14,Ponferada 14, Chan 11, Ibanes 10, Cruz 6, Ahanmisi 5, Quinahan 4, Trollano 2, Tiu 0.
Quarterscores: 19-16, 37-46, 70-63, 90-82