Defending champion San Miguel Beer regained its rhythm to beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 99-88, in Game 3 on Wednesday, for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Last year’s Philippine Cup Finals Most Valuable Player Chris Ross notched 16 of his 24 points in the second half in addition to eight assists and four rebounds, while combo guard Alex Cabagnot finished with 20 points to lead the Beermen.
“I thought we will lose again because they came out really strong in the first two quarters, but we were able to recover in the second half,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during the postgame interview. “They executed very well especially in the endgame.”
Three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo notched 17 points, 18 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Guard Marcio Lassiter had 16 points while forward Arwind Santos contributed nine points and eight rebounds also for the Beermen.
SMB lost to the Gin Kings via 118-124 decision in Game 2, in Lucena City last Sunday. San Miguel Beer won in Game 1, 109-82.
Tenorio sparked Ginebra’s rally in the first quarter by scoring 10 points resulting in a 24-19 lead. They stretched their advantage to 41-29, their biggest in the first half, after Chris Ellis’ jumper with 5:35 to go before the halftime break.
San Miguel Beer retaliated with a 16-6 rally capped by Ross’ six straight points that include two free throws that narrowed the gap, 44-47, with still 16 ticks remaining in the second half. Ellis allowed them to grab the lead, 49-44, with a jumper at the end of the first half.
The Beermen, who rested most of their starters in the first half, seized the advantage via Fajardo’s three-point play, 61-60, with 4:34 to go in the third quarter.
SMB erected a 69-64 cushion after Cabagnot’s back-to-back treys and Ross’ lay-up with 1:15 to go in the third canto.
The Beermen were leading, 69-66, after outscoring the Gin Kings in third canto, 25-17. San Miguel Beer relentlessly pounded on Ginebra’s porous defense up to the final 5:05 mark, en route to a 17-2 run that sealed their win.
LA Tenorio led Ginebra with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists, while rookie Kevin Ferrer posted 10 of his 15 points in the final quarter. He failed to score during the crucial moments of the match.
Ginebra’s Jervy Cruz missed Game 3 because of a shoulder injury he sustained in Game 2.