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Saturday, February 24, 2024

SMBeermen barge into semis

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SAN Miguel Beer is now a step closer to defending its crown. The top-seeded Beermen became the first team in the semifinals after they flexed their championship muscles in crucial times to turn back and eliminate No. 8 TNT KaTropa, 106-93, in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City last night.

Reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo imposed his will mightily, spearheading the Beermen’s attack by exploding for a season-high 35 points along with 

Once again the leading candidate for the Best Player of the Conference plum, Fajardo scattered 22 of his total points in the opening half to set the tone for San Miguel.

“June Mar (Fajardo) played really well for us and our experience showed in the end,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “It’s good to be back in the semifinals and we will now wait to see who we will play. It will be tough regardless.”

San Miguel will now face the victor of the series between No. 4 Barangay Ginebra and No. 5 Rain or Shine in a best-of-seven semifinals showdown.

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Fajardo wasn’t alone though as Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos helped out, adding 20 and 15 markers, respectively.

Showing its readiness to defend its title at all costs, the defending champion, with Fajardo leading the charge, grasped early control right away, establishing several 10-point leads in the latter part of the opening quarter.

The Beermen, despite the Tropang Texters’ resistance, kept their edge and carried a trimmed 52-44 advantage at the turn.

TNT roared back to start the third period and even grabbed the lead briefly on multiple occasions.

However, San Miguel ended the third with a key 10-4 run to regain upperhand, 77-72, going into the final period and it never looked back, closing out the show with a 12-3 run and knocking out TNT with its championship experience in full display.

Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario led the exiting Texters with 19 points each.

Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra and NLEX, both holding 1-0 leads, are both looking to deliver the knockout punches in their respective best-of-three quarters affairs to be able to move forward in the final four as well.

The Gin Kings will look to take out Rain or Shine at 4:30 p.m. even as the Road Warriors will try to do the same against Alaska at 7 p.m. in their separate Game 2 tussles at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.

The Scores:

SAN MIGUEL 106—Fajardo 35, Lassiter 20, Santos 15, Ross 13, Cabagnot 8, Heruela 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, De Ocampo 3, Pessumal 2, Espinas 1.

TALK N’ TEXT 93—Castro 19, Rosario 19, Pogoy 17, A. Semerad 16, Williams 15, Cruz 3, Torres 2, Garcia 2, Tautuaa 0, Paredes 0, Carey 0, Reyes 0.

Quarters: 31-23, 52-44, 77-72, 106-93.

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