Defending champion San Miguel Beer banked on solid defense late in the game to eliminate TNT KaTropa, 106-93, securing the first semifinals slot in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Armed with a twice-to-beat, June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos and Chris Ross unleashed a 10-2 run in the final two-minute mark to stop a late rally by the KaTropa, sealing their fifth consecutive appearance in Philippine Cup semifinals.
Fajardo racked up 22 of his 35 points on 15-of-19 shooting from the field in the first half on top of 11 rebounds and two blocks to lead the Beermen.
“This is the hardest game against TNT because they’ve gone through two knockout games and they blew them out so I was worried,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “But I give credit to the boys especially June Mar for being so focused. We followed the game plan to the letter.”
“I hadn’t sleep last night because my wife (Nanette) underwent a kidney transplant yesterday but everything is okay now,” Austria told reporters. I’m very thankful to God for giving me this win and to all the players. I’m also thankful to the wife of Rommel Adducul who led the operation.”
Marcio Lassiter added 20 points, Arwind Santos 15 points while Chris Ross had 13 points and seven assists.
San Miguel Beer will face the winner between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Rain or Shine in the best-of-seven semifinals.
Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario led TNT with 19 points apiece.
SAN MIGUEL 106 – Fajardo 35, Lassiter 20, Santos 15, Ross 13, Cabagnot 8, Heruela 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, De Ocampo 3, Pessumal 2, Espinas 1.
TALK N’ TEXT 93 – Castro 19, Rosario 19, Pogoy 17, A. Semerad 16, Williams 15, Cruz 3, Torres 2, Garcia 2, Tautuaa 0, Paredes 0, Carey 0, Reyes 0.