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On to the Finals: San Miguel eliminates Rain or Shine to set-up PH Cup rematch

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So it’s Beer versus Milk in the PBA Finals once again.

Surviving another late-game rally, the San Miguel Beermen advance to the Governor’s Cup championship after defeating the gritty Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 117-110 and book a date with the Alaska Aces in the finals.

The game started with an impressive shootout between the two teams as the squads raced to 16 points each in just 5 minutes of action. During the stretch, both were fiery as they made five of their first eight shot attempts. Rain or Shine got a slim lead at 18-16 with a Jericho Cruz basket but the close exchange was halted by SMB’s defense. The Beermen closed out the first quarter on a fiery 15-2 rampage in the last five minutes of the quarter as the frontcourt big duo of June Mar Fajardo and Arizona Reid already tallied ten markers apiece.

Ronald Tubid and Gabby Espinas extended the lead with a 5-0 spurt to start the second quarter. The double-digit lead was maintained by the Beermen until the three-minute mark of the period as June Mar Fajardo was subbed out as he got down after a collision. SMB then committed three straight turnovers in the last minutes of the first half that led to Rain or Shine trimming the lead down to seven with a mini 8-2 run. Fortunately for San Miguel, they were able to hold the grip in the game and stretch the lead to 14 just as the first half expired as Marcio Lassiter scored five of the Beermen’s last seven points including a buzzer-beating trifecta.

AZ Reid made the opening basket of the second half to raise the lead to 16, while Rain or Shine managed to chop it in half quickly with the locals providing jump shots. A couple of SMB stops enabled them to run in transition and extend their lead once again to double figures while also making their free throws. Turnovers and missed outside shots hurt RoS during the third as the Beermen were able to end the quarter strong and end it on top by 19 points.

Just as common to the familiar theme in this PBA semis, Rain or Shine fought back in the fourth period and attempted another comeback against SMB. They scored nine points to start the last quarter in less than two minutes to slice off and make it a 10-point lead. Despite Reid and Chris Lutz providing perimeter jumpers to salvage some points, the Painters were able to push their run and make it a 108-104 game with over three minutes to go. Timely stops and baskets, fortunately, went the way of San Miguel in the late stretch of the game as even 50-50 balls went their way. An Arwind Santos triple restored SMB’s edge while Arizona Reid put on the finishing touches against his former squad.

Despite shooting 37 attempts, Reid paced SMB with 38 points and 11 rebounds. Fajardo had another stellar outing to cap off his semifinals stint with 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting. McKines also had a fine exit for the Painters with 25 markers and 17 rebounds.

Game 1 of the Best-of-seven finals series between the San Miguel Beer and Alaska Aces will begin on Friday, 7pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:

San Miguel Beer (117) – Reid 38, Fajardo 27, Santos 15, Lassiter 12, Cabagnot 11, Espinas 6, Ross 5, Lutz 3, Tubid 0

Rain or Shine (110) – McKines 25, Chan 21, Norwood 15, Lee 13, Almazan 9, Quiñahan 8, Cruz 7, Tiu 5, Araña 4, Ibañes 2, Belga 1, Uyloan 0

Quarters: 31-20, 64-50, 93-74, 117-110

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