Reigning champion San Miguel Beer beat Rain or Shine 103-94 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven semifinals of Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday. The Beermen are now leading the series 3-2.
Center June Mar Fajardo finished with 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the field plus 12 rebounds, three assists and a block while playmaker Alex Cabagnot notched 14 points and six assists for the Beermen. SMB is one win away from returning to the finals.
“With this win, we achieved nothing yet because this is a series and we need to win another one,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during a post-game interview. “We have to play deliberate and methodical. Off the bench players Gabby Espinas and Chris Ross are playing well. They’re playing great defense. If he [June Mar] keeps scoring, he will stay inside. W e still have a lot of room for improvement,” Austria added.
Forward Arwind Santos posted eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter on top of five rebounds and three blocks while Marcio Lassiter also had 12 points for the Beermen. Espinas, Ross and Ronald Tubid contributed nine points apiece for San Miguel Beer.
Big man JR Quinahan led Rain or Shine with 20 points and six rebounds.
It was a close fight between the Beermen and the Elasto Painters in the early part of the game with 11 lead changes and eight deadlocks at the halftime break. San Miguel Beer took the upper hand by the end of first quarter 17-13. They beefed up their lead 50-44 in the second quarter.
Fajardo was threat in the shaded lane posting 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the field plus five rebounds in the first half. Cabagnot, for his part, scored eight of his 10 halftime points in the second quarter.
Jericho Cruz, who missed Game 4 because of a knee injury, notched seven points in the third frame to bring the score to 72-68 at the start of fourth canto.
Cruz scored 13 points before fouling out with few minutes left in the fourth quarter.
San Miguel Beer still dominated the fourth period 31-26 to seal the win. Another victory by San Miguel Beer in Game 6 will put them in a best-of-seven finals rematch against Alaska. The Aces entered the finals via 4-1 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier.
The Beermen are eyeing its 36th overall finals appearance in the PBA and its 10th in Philippine Cup.
Meanwhile, coach Yeng Guiao of Rain or Shine told The Manila Times that he doesn’t feel any regret airing his side to the media regarding their loss to San Miguel Beer (92-105) in Game 4 on Monday.
“That’s fine with me, no regrets. If I don’t act about it [commenting on the officiating], my team will be greatly affected,” said Guiao via text message. “I need to protect my team.”
Guiao was slapped with a P35,000 fine on Tuesday for issuing a statement detrimental to the league, for flashing a dirty finger sign, and for leaving the bench during an altercation. Assistant team manager Jay Legacion and assistant coach Mike Buendia were also fined P 5,000 each.
Players Ponferada of Rain or Shine and Santos of San Miguel Beer were fined P5,000 each for flagrant foul penalty 1 and Paul Lee P1,000 for a technical foul.