• San Miguel Beer pulls away with 3-1 lead

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    Defending champion San Miguel  Beer capitalized on a huge early lead to post a 94-85 win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 4 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.

    Inspired by his fifth Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award, three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks to give the Beermen a 3-1 lead.

    “The key was our good start,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during the postgame interview. “Every time we have a good start, many things can happen. We got our confidence and at the same time, our defense also worked.”

    Guard Marcio Lassiter also notched 20 points, point guard Chris Ross had 17 points and nine assists while Alex Cabagnot had 13 points. Forward Arwind Santos and Ronald Tubid chipped in eight points apiece also for the Beermen.

    SMB posted a total of 15 three-pointers against five of the Gin Kings, equaling the PBA finals record of most three-point shots made by Rain or Shine.

    Joe Devance led Ginebra with 22 points and six rebounds.

    San Miguel Beer will bag its seventh Philippine Cup crown and 23rd overall title if it wins Game 5 on Sunday at the same venue.

    San Miguel Beer had a blazing 20-2 start capped by Ross’ three-pointer with 7:05 to go. The Beermen ended the first quarter, 30-18, behind the solid performance of Lassiter, Ross and Santos.

    The Beermen outscored the Gin Kings beyond the arc in the first period, 6-0. They maintained their intensity heading into the second quarter resulting in a 55-34-halftime lead.

    San Miguel Beer delivered five of its 11 three-pointers in the second canto while Ginebra was scoreless from the three-point area in the first half. The Beermen garnered 15 points on Ginebra’s 10 turnovers in the first half.

    Lassiter gave the Beermen their biggest lead, 60-34, after hitting a three-pointer with 10:58 to go in the third period. The Gin Kings fought hard in the early part of second half. They outscored the Beermen in the third canto, 29-21, but it wasn’t enough to seize the advantage. They were still trailing going to the payoff quarter, 63-76.

    Ginebra narrowed the gap to just 72-82 after Kevin Ferrer’s trey. Tenorio scored a triple and Aljon Mariano made a lay-up cutting the deficit to just 85-92 with only 1:17 left.

    But missed shots by Ferrer and Tenorio plus the errors of Mark Caguioa in the final minute squandered Ginebra’s chance.

    Earlier, the 6’10 Fajardo copped his fifth BPC award equaling the feat of his mentor Danny Ildefonso. Fajardo had an average of 19.4 points, 15.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the 19 games he played. He finished with a leading 43.4 statistical points (SPs) and tallied 1,217 points ahead of Terrence Romeo’s 711. The winner was the one with the highest number of votes from the media, players, the PBA Commissioner’s Office and statistical points.
    The retired 6’6 Ildefonso won five-straight BPC awards while playing for the Beermen during the 2000 Commissioner’s Cup and the 2001 Governor’s Cup.

    Scores:
    SAN MIGUEL 94 – Fajardo 20, Lassiter 20, Ross 17, Cabagnot 13, Santos 8, Tubid 8, De Ocampo 5, Espinas 3, Heruela 0.

    GINEBRA 85 – Devance 22, Aguilar 12, Tenorio 12, Ellis 10, Thompson 7, Ferrer 6, Mercado 6, Marcelo 4, Caguioa 3, Mariano 2, Cruz 1, Taha 0.

    Quarter scores: 30-18, 55-34, 76-63, 94-85

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