Aug 12, 2022

Beermen play clutch at endgame, take 3-2 lead

WITH a crucial salvo at endgame, San Miguel Beer beat Meralco, 89-78, in a well-fought tiff to close in on a return trip to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.

Just as the Bolts got to within two on a three-pointer by Allein Maliksi, the Beermen responded with a 9-0 tear for an 87-76 spread entering the final minute of the game.

Rodney Brondial starred in that clutch binge, with the 6-foot-5 forward scoring all of his five markers in that run to personally beat the Bolts and send the Beermen on the brink of the best-of-seven title playoff.

With the pivotal 3-2 series lead, the Beermen will be out for the closeout job at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Big Dome.

A do-or-die Game 7, if necessary, is Wednesday.

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Jericho Cruz also had a clutch effort in a big bounceback from a two-point showing in the previous game.

In the postgame interview, he said they would try their best to go for the kill in Game 6.

"Di ako pinatulog nung laro ko last time. Para sa akin, pinakapangit na laro ko yun. And going to this game, my mindset was just to be me," said Cruz, who sparkled with 17 points, including 2-of-4 three-pointers, off the bench.

"Actually, di ko naman iniisip umiskor. Ang iniisip ko eh to stop (Allein) Maliksi. Pag na-stop ko si Maliksi, mali-limit ang plays nila which yon ang nangyari," Cruz also said.

Then there's CJ Perez who sustained his hot shooting, making 25 while June Mar Fajardo was held to 12 as the focal point of the Meralco defense.

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It was another duel of runs between these two well-prepared, well-coached teams, with the Beermen taking the early initiative, then the Bolts racing ahead, 40-33, on a 15-0 run.

The Beermen came to within three at the half, 44-41, and the two teams engaged in a battle all the way to the end.

From the halftime huddle, the Beermen had their own roll in the third.

"We learned our lessons. Every time we lost to Meralco, we didn't have a good start in the third quarter. For me, the third quarter is pivotal so I stressed this to the team. We're able to run the plays we're running before and defend according to our standard and it worked," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

This time, the Beermen won the third-quarter battle, 26-12, and eventually won the match. (SB)

The Scores:

San Miguel 89 - Perez 24, Cruz 17, Fajardo 12, Tautuaa 9, Enciso 8, Manuel 6, Lassiter 5, Brondial 5, Ross 0, Herndon 0.

Meralco 78 - Newsome 24, Maliksi 12, Hodge 11, Quinto 11, Almazan 8, Black 6, Pascual 2, Banchero 2, Hugnatan 2, Jose 0, Baclao 0.

Quarters: 25-22, 41-44, 67-56, 89-78