SAN Miguel Beer moved on the cusp of returning to the PBA Philippine cup finals after demolishing Phoenix, 114-91, in a highly-charged Game 4 Tuesday night at the Astrodome.
The Beermen raced to a fast start and controlled the game in the first half, which ended with the reigning champions on top, 59-48, following an emotionally-fought second quarter that saw Phoenix big guard Alex Mallari ejected on account of two straight technical fouls.
The Beermen, the four-time defending champion, had a strong start in the series this time, before Terrence Romeo sustained the gains behind a fiery third quarter scoring to run away with the lopsided win.
Another victory in Game 5 Thursday will have the team, now leading the best-of-seven series, 3-1, clinching a berth in the All-Filipino Cup finals for the fifth straight season.
Coach Leo Austria however, doesn't want to think too far ahead.
"We will work really hard the next game because we don't want to extend the series," said Austria. "But it's not easy because their (Fuel Masters) conference is on the line.
"Finally, we have a good start out of these four games. I think that's what we need, to have a good start," added Austria. "We were able to dictate the tempo of the game."
Come the third period, Romeo took over the show.
The three-time scoring champion dazzled by scoring 17 straight points for the Beermen, including three straight three-pointers at one stretch, when he entered the game midway in the quarter.
By the time Romeo was through, San Miguel was already way ahead, 89-63.
He finished with a game-high 20 points and finished 6-of-10 from three-point range.
"I think that was the turning point. He exploded and I was waiting for that at the right time, at the right place," said Austria of Romeo. "He's the main man tonight."
Alex Cabagnot had 18 points, Arwind Santos shot 3-of-7 from three-point range to finish with 16, while Von Pessumal and Chris Ross added 10 each for San Miguel, which had the luxury of sitting out five-time MVP June mar Fajardo in the fourth quarter when the Beermen ripped the game apart.
Calvin Abueva was the lone double-digit scorer for the Fuel Masters with 19 points while adding 15 rebounds. (GR)
San Miguel 114 - Romeo 20, Cabagnot 18, Santos 16, Ross 10, Pessumal 10, Standhardinger 9, Fajardo 9, Rosser 8, Nabong 7, Zamar 5, Vigil 2, Lassiter 0, Mamaril 0, Tubid 0.
Phoenix 91 - Abueva 19, Jazul 9, Marcelo 9, Perkins 8, Chua 8, Kramer 7, Intal 7, Napoles 7, Wright 6, Mendoza 4, Mallari 3, Revilla 2, Dennison 2, Guevarra 0.
Quarterscores: 27-20, 59-48, 89-63, 114-91.