San Miguel Beer prevailed in the 2016 Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals as the Beermen closed Game 6 with an emphatic win past Rain or Shine on Friday, 90-82, to book a return trip to the Finals and meet their All-Filipino Cup nemesis, the Alaska Aces.
The classic Beermen are set to defend their Philippine Cup title once again against the title-hungry Alaska in Finals Game 1 on Sunday, still at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Coach Leo Austria’s fighting wards proved that with or without one of their instrumental bullets June Mar Fajardo, who endured an untimely knee injury after colliding with Jireh Ibanes midway through the third frame, they would not simply back down and let Rain or Shine get the best of them.
Fajardo had to leave the crucial second half then and was put on a stretcher to go off-court, much to the SMBelievers’ disappointment.
But instead of being discouraged and dismantled, the Beermen drew more force from Fajardo’s disappearance and recouped for a wilder stretch spearheaded by Arwind Santos’ clutch baskets, thereby threatening Rain or Shine’s plot for a comeback.
It also went in favor of San Miguel Beer that Gabby Espinas and Yancy De Ocampo stepped up at a time the Beermen needed them most, as the duo took charge of Fajardo’s role underneath and clobbered the likes of Elasto Painters big men Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, and Jewel Ponferrada.
Coach Yeng Guiao’s Elasto Painters still never up though, yet the Beermen were gritty enough to abolish Rain or Shine’s 15-point cushion and basically settled the game outcome after piling an 84-79 carom.
Shooting sniper Marcio Lassiter led San Miguel Beer with 22 points, mostly coming from his timely three-pointers from the arc.
In addition, Arwind Santos chipped in 15 markers, while June Mar Fajardo still finished in double-digits 14 points before leaving the game, to cruise San Miguel Beer in the most-awaited Philippine Cup Finals deja vu against the Alaska Aces.
Meanwhile, the game is now over for the fighting Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Rain or Shine could have sustained its climaxing momentum after leading by as much as 16 points, but the unlikely errors and unsuccessful attempts from the free throw stripe dragged the Elasto Painters during the crucial moments of the stretch.
Five Elasto Painters capped off in double-digits, with Beau Belga on the lead with 16 points, followed by Gabe Norwood and Jewel Ponferrada with 14 markers apiece.
Jeff Chan and Jireh Ibanes registered 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the gallant Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, who played once again without Paul Lee as his knee injury had resurfaced.
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.