ARWIND Santos buried a crucial three-pointer inside the final minute before forcing Ranidel De Ocampo to a difficult shot in the dying seconds as San Miguel Beer pulled off a 96-95 win win over Talk 'N Text to take a 3-0 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Weighed down by five fouls as early as the onset on the fourth quarter, Santos still found a way to shine in the endgame as he kept the Beermen's head above water with a clutch three-pointer, 95-91, with 1:34 left.
Talk 'N Text had a chance to steal the win, 95-96, after a split from the foul line by SMB guard Alex Cabagnot with 9.2 seconds left, but Santos stood his ground against De Ocampo who was forced to put up a tough, fallaway jumper as the final seconds ticked away.
That enabled the Beermen to move within a win of sweeping the best-of-seven semifinal series and making it to the finals for the first time since the 2013 Governors Cup.
PBA teams which took a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series are a perfect 13-0.
“We were able to salvage this one," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after an emotional, physical game that was preceded by accusations of dirty play and intimidation of referees by both camps. "This is a very emotional game, but I told the boys we should not be affected by what happened.
“They (Beermen) feel it (tension) and I expected Talk ‘N Text to come out stronger than the last two games, which happened kasi first time ito na they (Tropang Texters) had a good start and they led by six points at the half.”
It was another painful loss for Talk ‘N Text, which kept the game close behind Jayson Castro, Jay Washington and Jimmy Alapag but couldn't make the big plays down the stretch.
The Tropang Texters also missed 14 free throws, just two days after going 12-of-24 from the line in an 81-87 loss to the Beermen in Game Two.
They also had no answer for Santos, who willed the Beermen to the win by banging in eight of his 23 points in the final period while going 5-of-7 from beyond the three-point arc.
June mar Fajardo added 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, narrowly missing a double-double, while Marcio Lassiter chipped in 17 before fouling out.
De Ocampo led the Tropang Texters with 21 points, while Castro added 15.
San Miguel Beer 96 - Santos 23, Fajardo 18, Lassiter 17, Maierhofer 10, Cabagnot 9, Lutz 8, Tubid 7, Ross 2, Kramer 2, Omolon 0, Pascual 0, Fortuna 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0.
Talk 'N Text 95 - De Ocampo 21, Castro 15, Washington 12, Alapag 11, Reyes R. 10, Rosser 9, Carey 7, Fonacier 7, Aban 3, Alas 0, Reyes R.J. 0, Williams 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarterscores: 26-28, 49-55, 75-76, 96-95