SMB routs Ginebra to force rubber match

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Defending champion San Miguel Beer bounced back from a frustrating loss in Game 3, crushing Barangay Ginebra, 101-72, in Game 4 on Sunday to forge a sudden-death game in the best-of-five semifinals of Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

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Import Elijah Millsap racked up 25 points plus 17 rebounds and four assists with two blocks, while guard Marcio Lassiter added 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting beyond the arc and playmaker Chris Ross scored 21 points plus five assists to help the Beermen tie the series at 2-2.

Ronald Tubid scored 19 points, while June Mar Fajardo added 17 points and 16 rebounds, Arwind Santos made 15 points, Alex Cabagnot scored 13 points and Yancy De Ocampo contributed 12 points also for the Beermen.

“You’re not sure what will happen if you’re facing Ginebra,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during interview. “I am so thankful we evened the series. They know the situation. We’ve been in this situation in the past. We just evened the series.”

Import Justin Brownlee led Ginebra with 28 points.

It was a great win for San Miguel Beer after losing via 96-97 in Game 3 behind Japeth Aguilar’s game-winning buzzer beating jumper.

Meanwhile, Meralco seeks for a first ever finals appearance today when it battles Talk ‘N Text in Game 4 of their own best-of-five semifinals at the same venue.

Game time is set at 7 p.m.

After losing Game 1 (113-95), the Bolts came back stronger in the last two games winning Game 2 (106-91) and Game 3 (119-113) behind the explosive performance of import Allen Durham and local players Reynel Hugnatan, Chris Newsome and veteran Jimmy Alapag to seize the series advantage at 2-1.

“It is the first opportunity for us to make the PBA finals so we will go for it,” Meralco grand slam coach Norman Black told The Manila Times via text message. “We understand that Talk ‘N Text is a powerhouse team and they can bounce back so we have to be ready. Defense will be our focus because their offense can explode at anytime.”

A win by the Bolts will send them to first ever championship round since entering the league in 2010.

JOSEF T. RAMOS

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