San Miguel Beer shook off a slow start and battered Alaska Milk in the second half, pulling off a 114-96 victory to clinch a spot in the best-of-three quarterfinals matchups in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
Trailing by 10 points early on, the Beermen turned the game around in the third period and sustained their charge through the fourth to close out their elims campaign with seven wins against four losses.
Assuring themselves of a place in the Top Six, the Beermen are to figure in the pair of best-of-three quarters playoffs pitting the third seed against the sixth seed and the No. 4 versus the No. 5.
Meanwhile, the fight for the three remaining quarterfinals berths remained wide open as the Aces dropped to joint seventh with the NLEX Road Warriors at 4-6.
Others still in contention for the playoffs are Magnolia (5-5), NorthPort (3-6), Columbian Dyip (4-7) and Meralco (3-7).
"I'm happy for the players they still felt that sense of urgency to win. We don't want to get to the quarterfinals coming from a loss," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
Alex Cabagnot exploded for 31 points while Christian Standhardinger came through with 23 markers in his first game from his bout with an injury.
Arwind Santos, Von Pessumal, June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross also had solid games as the Beermen rebounded from their sorry loss to the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters the last time out.
Cabagnot had a timely explosion with Terrence Romeo out on a minor illness. The Fil-Am guard carried much of the load in the first half before Ross, Fajardo, Santos and Lassiter also hit their strides, joining forces to put SMB ahead, 79-71, going into the final canto.
Standhardinger, Santos and Pessumal continued to get going in the fourth period, fuelling the SMB breakaway en route to the big 18-point victory.
Santos sparkled with five three-pointers while Pessumal, Cabagnot and Ross frolicked with three triples each as against the 4-of-17 three-pointers of the whole Alaska squad.
"I'm happy for both Standhardinger and Alex Cabagnot. Standhardinger played really well despite only two scrimmages with us. Cabagnot finally hit it big again after a series of not-so-good games," said Austria.
Chris Banchero fired 22 markers to pace the losing team that also drew double-digit outputs from Sonny Thoss, Noy Baclao, Jeron Teng and Carl Bryan Cruz.
Alaska top official Dickie Bachmann said Vic Manuel can well rejoin the team if they're able to make the playoffs.(SB)
San Miguel 114 - Cabagnot 31, Standhardinger 23, Santos 17, Pessumal 14, Fajardo 13, Ross 10, Lassiter 4, Rosser 2, Zamar 0, Mamaril 0, Tubid 0, Vigil 0, Nabong 0.
Alaska 96 - Banchero 22, Cruz 13, Thoss 12, Baclao 12, Teng 11, Potts 6, Pascual 6, Casio 4, Enciso 2, Exciminiano 2, Galliguez 2, Racal 2, Ayaay 2, Babilonia 0.
Quarters: 21-27, 45-50, 79-71, 114-96.