THE San Miguel Beermen (SMB) punched their way into the semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup yesterday, defeating convincingly the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters, 115-96, in their quarterfinal pairing in proceedings held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Despite holding a twice-to-beat advantage over Phoenix, second-seeded San Miguel saw no need to make use of it as it went on to close out things at the first instance and hand seventh-seeded Phoenix the pink slip.
Boosted by six triples in the opening quarter, three coming from Marcio Lassiter, the Beermen sprinted to a 28-21 lead at the end of the first period.
San Miguel’s offensive juggernaut continued in the second frame as it went on a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 40-23 in the first four minutes of the quarter.
Phoenix could only do little the rest of the way en route to getting buried further, 57-37, by halftime.
The Fuel Masters showed more fight in the third quarter with import Jameel McKay coming to life with help from Matthew Wright, John Wilson and RJ Jazul.
Collectively, however, San Miguel would stand its ground to remain in command at the end of the third period, 88-69.
The start of the payoff period saw Phoenix on a fast start, trimming San Miguel’s lead to 14 points, 88-74, with 10:50 to go in the contest.
It would not go any closer than that, however, as the Beermen flipped the switch and held steady to collect the semifinal ticket.
Mr. Lassiter was the high point man for San Miguel with 26 points followed by Alex Cabagnot with 20 on top of eight rebounds and six assists.
June Mar Fajardo had 15 markers while import Charles Rhodes had 14 to go along with 11 rebounds.
Mr. McKay led Phoenix with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Mr. Jazul had 14 points.
“We are very happy with this win. Our aim is to make it to the finals and with this win we move one step closer. I commend the players for showing the urgency to win and not to let it go to a second game. Hopefully they can sustain their level of play in the semifinals,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after their win.
Meanwhile, the Star Hotshots and TNT KaTropa try to finish off the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Meralco Bolts, respectively, in their best-of-three affairs in Game Two today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Star reengages Rain or Shine at 4:15 p.m. off its 118-82 win in the series opener on Monday that had import Ricardo Ratliffe topscoring with 29 points.
In the 7 p.m. main game, TNT battles Meralco, looking to pick up from its 102-84 Game One victory on the strength of the all-around effort of Jayson Castro, who finished with 25 points, six rebounds and seven assists.