Import Elijah Millsap powered reigning champion San Miguel Beer’s slim 95-92 win over Barangay Ginebra in Game 2 to even the best-of-five semifinals series, 1-1, on Wednesday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Millsap scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth period on top of nine rebounds and four assists. Center June Mar Fajardo contributed 18 points, 23 rebounds and two blocks while Alex Cabagnot had 13 points and eight assists for the Beermen.
“In a best of five series, it’s very important not to be at 0-2,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during the postgame interview. “We don’t want to be in deep trouble. I have to appreciate these players in spite of being tired. I salute the players because of their composure.”
“We really wanted to win. We’ve learned our lesson from our last game because there were so many lapses defensively in the second half as we gave up 69 points. I hope this win can give us momentum which is hard because we keep on adjusting.”
“It’s a collective effort from my other teammates,” said Millsap.
Ronald Tubid finished with 10 points, while Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter had eight points apiece also for San Miguel Beer.
LA Tenorio led Ginebra with 22 points plus six assists, while import Justin Brownlee had 18 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Fajardo led the Beermen to a good start with 10 points resulting in a 24-18 lead for his team at the end of the first quarter.
But Fajardo’s performance was hampered in the second canto after suffering a cut on his forehead after an accidental elbow by his teammate Millsap.
San Miguel Beer, despite Fajardo’s absence, managed to sustain its momentum in the second frame. Millsap and Marcio Lassiter posted a combined 12 points of San Miguel Beer’s 27-point output in the second period en route to a 51-40 lead at the halftime break.
Barangay Ginebra’s never-say-die spirit manifested when it reclaimed the lead, 69-66, late in the third period behind a 31-21 run highlighted by Brownlee’s three-pointer. LA Tenorio also hit 12 points while Brownlee added eight more points.
But a split free throws of Fajardo and two points each from Chris Ross and Lassiter allowed the Beermen to cruise past the Gin Kings, 72-71, in the fourth period.
The Beermen sustained their assault in the payoff period with a 16-7 run highlighted by the two triples of Ronald Tubid and Cabagnot. SMB was leading, 91-80, with 6:50 remaining in the match.
But the Gin Kings closed the gap anew, 93-92, with 20.4 ticks to go. Millsap saved the day for San Miguel Beer with a two-handed slam-dunk resulting in a 95-92 lead in their favor with 12.2 left.
The Gin Kings couldn’t score in the remaining seconds allowing the Beermen to escape with a win.
Meanwhile, Talk ‘N Text guns for a 2-0 lead against Meralco in Game 2, in the other best-of-five semifinals series at 7 p.m. at the same venue today. The Tropang Texters beat the Bolts, 113-95, in Game 1.
“It’s a do-or-die tomorrow (Thursday) because it will be almost impossible to comeback from a 0-2 deficit. We just have to play better,” Meralco coach Norman Black said via text message.
JOSEF T. RAMOS