The San Miguel Beermen (SMB) defeated the Alaska Aces, 100-89, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday to force a do-or-die Game 7 in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup 2016 finals.
The Beermen relied on the prowess of Marcio Lassiter, who posted 26 points and nine rebounds through a 66.67 percent performance from beyond the arc.
The Aces opened the match with the duo of Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva blazing through frontline of the Beermen, each scoring six points in the quarter resulting in a 29-22 edge after the first 12 minutes of play.
However, San Miguel Beer came back with a vengeance in the second canto behind the three-point play of Yancy De Ocampo. The Beermen gained the upper hand, 41-39, at the 4:45 mark.
Alaska retaliated with a converted trey of guard JV Casio to take a provisional grip on the lead, 42-41.
San Miguel Beer’s 29-points explosion before the halftime was capped off with a buzzer-beating shot by reigning best player June Mar Fajardo that earned his team a slim 51-49 advantage at the break.
Forward Vic Manuel led the Aces back to the top, 55-53, as play resumed in the third period. He was supported by Abueva in pounding the defense of their rivals.
But through sheer aggressiveness, the Beermen managed to once again, at the 2:19 minute mark of the third, bounced back and enters the final 12 minutes of action enjoying a slim 67-66 lead.
A 5-0 run in the early part of the fourth quarter further pushed the Beermen ahead, 72-66, following a shot by Fajardo and a three-pointer by Lassiter.
The men of coach Leo Austria sustained their attacks in the fourth bringing the score to 83-68, with just 7:46 left in the game.
San Miguel Beer further stretched their lead to 12 points, 95-83, through two converted shots of Chris Lutz from the charity stripe.
Problems piled up for Alaska as prolific scorer Abueva was taken out of the contest after his second technical foul on a second motion in the final seconds of the match.
Fajardo finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for the Beermen while De Ocampo contributed 14 markers and six boards.
Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot had 10 points each also for San Miguel Beer.
Vic Manuel led Alaska with 21 points and nine rebounds while the ejected Abueva notched 17 points and nine boards.
“We just tied the series and this is a very important game for us. [I think] the sense of urgency and heart of the champion [of the players]prevailed,” head coach Austria said during the post-match press conference.
Austria added that his wards’ experience as Philippine Cup defending champions proved useful in forcing a deciding Game 7.
Austria was happy to have a four-day rest and preparation for his wards for the do-or-die final game on Wed¬nesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.