SAN Miguel Beer displayed its championship poise when it mattered as it survived Magnolia, 84-80, to move on the cusp of a historic fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup championship on Wednesday night.
The Beermen were held almost scoreless in the final two minutes as they saw the Hotshots nearly raze a seven-point deficit behind Ian Sangalang, but held on to pull off the hard-earned win at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Arwind Santos knocked down the two charities that sealed the deal as the Beermen continued to show they can win a grind-out battle that the Hotshots thrive in to take a 3-1 lead in the series.
“These players showed the heart of a champion. They know how to win,” SMB coach Leo Austria said.
The Beermen can finish off the Hotshots in Game Five on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
SMB looked like it was already headed for the win with a little less than two minutes left when Alex Cabagnot hit two of three charities off a questionable foul on Rafi Reavis to give the Beermen an 82-75 lead at the one-minute, 58-second mark.
But Sangalang scored the next five points – the first two on an alley-oop off Rome dela Rosa before converting a three-point play off June Mar Fajardo to pull the Hotshots with two points.
Magnolia had a chance to tie the game, but Mark Barroca turned the ball over in their next offensive possession, leaving Santos to pick up the loose ball and drawing a foul for the two charities that gave them a two-possession lead that was enough to hold on.
Santos finished with 13 points, 11 boards, two assists, and two blocks in 44 minutes.
Cabagnot showed the way with 27 points, two assists, one board, and one steal in 35 minutes, while Marcio Lassiter added 18 points, highlighted by four triples, four boards, two steals, one assist, and one block in almost 43 minutes.
Fajardo chipped in 16 points on just 5-of-15 shooting, 13 boards, and three blocks on the same day he won a record sixth Best Player of the Conference award.
Sangalang finished with 22 points, 11 boards, and two assists, without a single turnover in over 37 minutes of play, but found little help outside Rome dela Rosa and Mark Barroca as Paul Lee was hobbled by a minor ankle injury in the first half.
SMB 84 – Cabagnot 27, Lassiter 18, Fajardo 16, Santos 13, Ganuelas-Rosser 5, Ross 4, Espinas 1, Heruela 0, Pessumal 0
MAGNOLIA 80 – Sangalang 22, Dela Rosa 15, Barroca 14, Lee 9, Reavis 6, Simon 5, Jalalon 4, Ramos 3, Pascual 2, Gamalinda 0
Quarterscores: 14-20; 45-46; 69-64; 84-80