Mar 19, 2023

Clark tallies 40 as San Miguel eliminates Converge, grabs first semis seat

A RIGOROUS schedule and Converge's gritty stand could not deter San Miguel Beer from its purpose.

Cameron Clark scored 40 points and 13 rebounds while leading a big third quarter surge that ultimately boosted the Beermen over the FiberXers, 121-115, Sunday and into the PBA Governors' Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

CJ Perez tallied his own double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds and Vic Manuel went a perfect 9-for-9 from the field for 20 points as second-ranked SMB did not let its win-once advantage over its seventh-seeded opponent go to waste.

After playing their third game in five days, the Beermen now get a well-deserved rest before taking on the other quarterfinals pairing between No. 3 Barangay Ginebra and No. 6 NLEX in a best-of-five semifinals duel.

For sure, according to SMB coach Jorge Gallent, his players could sure use the respite to not only rest but also gear up for the tougher grind ahead.

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"Nothing comes easy now. It's the playoffs," said Gallent.

"We had a hard time against Converge today and I'm expecting we're gonna have a hard time in the semifinals," added Gallent. "So we just have to prepare, prepare, prepare."

Indeed, new import Tom Vodanovich did his best to keep Converge in the game as he scattered 39 points and 10 rebounds. But his efforts went for naught as the FiberXers were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the same SMB team for the second straight conference.

"We just watched his last film, when he played about a month ago. That was the only basis that we could scout him," related Gallent. "We knew he was very aggressive and a good three-point shooter so we prepared for that defensively."

Maverick Ahanmisi added 18 points while Justin Arana, Alec Stockton and Aljun Melecio finished with at least 11 points each.

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Simply put, SMB just wouldn't be denied with Clark scoring eight straight points that kept the team within 57-58 at the half before scoring as many during an 11-0 run that broke the Beermen out of a 70-all tie and gave them an 81-70 lead.

Everything went downhill for the FiberXers from there with Perez, who also had five assists and as many steals, booming in back-to-back triples that pushed the Beermen totally beyond reach, 121-103. (NC)

The Scores:

San Miguel 121 - Clark 40, Perez 26, Manuel 20, Cruz 12, Tautuaa 8, Lassiter 7, Enciso 6, Ross 2, Brondial 0, Bulanadi 0.

Converge 105 - Vodanovich 39, Ahanmisi 18, Arana 14, Stockton 12, Melecio 11, Teng 7, Balanza 4, Murrell 0, Tratter 0, Ebona 0, Tolomia 0, Racal 0.

Quarters: 34-27, 57-58, 94-82, 121-105