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Cabagnot, SMB strike back; take 2-1 lead over ROS

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With both teams shooting the lights out of the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the San Miguel Beermen survived the hot Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 114-108, and took a decisive 2-1 series lead in their Best-of-Five Semifinals series.

With guns ablaze, both teams battled each other to a virtual standstill in the opening moments of the game. None was more incendiary than SMB playmaker, Alex Cabagnot who drained 13 points in the first quarter which includes three trifectas. Cabagnot’s effort opened a seven point Beermen lead, 19-12, midway through the firat frame but RoS quickly countered by going to their import, Wendell Mckines. Mckines notched 12 points and, along with Paul Lee, led a Rain or Shine rally that had them steal the lead beforw the second quarter, 27-26.

The Beermen struck a huge blow to the Elasto Painters’ cause as their deliberate spoon-feeding of June Mar Fajardo led to Raymond Almazan getting his fourth foul with 8:25 left in the second quarter. Almazan’s foul trouble exasperated RoS’s frontcourt that was already without Beau Belga. SMB import, AZ Reid took full advantage of the mismatches afforded to him by the RoS defense and in one stretch drilled four consecutive triples leading to a 44-40 Beermen lead. However, SMB’s versatile forward, Arwind Santos caught his fourth foul late in the quarter as well, resulting in SMB having to go to seldom used veterans to finish off the half. Clutch baskets from the RoS backcourt tandem of Lee and Chris Tiu gave RoS enough of a kick to stay in pace with the Beermen, allowing only a 54-56 gap at the halftime buzzer.

The Beermen came off the halftime break guns ablaze, rattling off a 14-6 run powered by four triples and leaving them with their firat double-digit advantage, 70-60 with 8:00 on the third quarter clock. With the Painters threatening to close the quarter out strong, Cabagnot rekindled his fire, scoring seven points late in the quarter and found AZ Reid for an easy layup that kept RoS at bay, 89-79. Jeff Chan responded with a jab from beyond the arc, still his team was down heading into the final quarter, 89-82.

RoS swingman, Gabe Norwood matched the sudden offensive outpour from Ronald Tubid to start off the fourth period. Norwood’s effort proved to be more fruitful, as his corner triple trimmed the SMB advantage to just two, 96-98. But, RoS failed to make further progress while SMV remained relentless with its offensive pressure. AZ Reid did most of the damage down the stretch, putting up nine points in the last six minutes of the game. Reid’s hook shot over Mckines gave SMB a nine-point lead, 110-101 with two minutes remaining. RoS ran out of steam.down the stretch, failing to make plays in the clutch and even looking lost in the final minute when they chose not to foul to stop the clock but gave away an offensive rebound that ultimately sealed their fate.

Reid topped all scorers with 37 points while Alex Cabagnot was especially brilliant in gus control of the pick-and-roll action. Cabagnot finished with 24 points and nine assists.

“The reason why we won was we were able to adjust to what they did to us the last game. Our zone defense also clicked,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, whose team could close out the series Wednesday.

“I’m glad Alex found his game. AZ [Reid] also wants to win this game badly and it showed,” added Austria. “Today everyone wanted to win, even the players on the bench.”

In the PBA’s history, 3 out of 4 teams who took a 2-1 lead in a best-of-five series went on to win the series.

The Scores:

San Miguel Beer (114) – Reid 37, Cabagnot 26, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 17, Tubid 8, Lutz 7, Santos 2, Ross 0, Omolon 0, Espinas 0

Rain or Shine (108) – McKines 39, Lee 22, Chan 13, Norwood 12, Tiu 10, Quiñahan 5, Tang 2, Almazan 2, Ibañes 2, Jeri Cruz 1, Uyloan 0, Araña 0

Quarterscores: 26-27, 56-54, 89-82, 114-108

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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