The San Miguel Beermen have yet to lose in 66 days
San Miguel Beermen did not let their twice-to-beat edge be spoiled as they overcame a late game Rain or Shine Elasto Painters comeback attempt 98-91, in their 2017 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal match Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
With the win, San Miguel becomes the first team to qualify in the semifinals — their fourth straight appearance in the said stage of the All-Filipino cup since 2012. They will now wait for the winner of the TNT-Globalport series to determine their opponent.
The Elasto Painters, on the other hand, will miss the semifinal phase of the Philippine Cup for the first time since 2011.
“I still believe na Rain or Shine is a tough team. but unfortunately for them, our players really wanted to win,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “Though hindi ganun kaganda ang laro namin, but a win is a win for us.”
And the win is their 10th straight win dating back to December 3, 2016.
The Beermen received an unexpected lift from bench player RR Garcia, as the 5’8″ guard led all players in scoring with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting, with 5-of-7 coming from the three-point area. He also had three rebounds and two assists in his best game yet as a pro.
“I have to commend our players, especially RR dahil nag-step up siya. if not for his outside shooting, i think we’re in trouble,” said Austria of Garcia’s breakout performance.
June Mar Fajardo posted yet another double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds. Arwind Santos also had a double-double of his with 13 and 12.
The Beermen were sitting on a comfortable 13-point cushion, 94-81, after a pair of charities by Garcia with 2:47 left in the game, but RoS fought back gallantly one last time with an 8-0 run capped by a Beau Belga jumper to erase the deficit to just five, 94-89, with 1:10 to go.
However, the Elasto Painers could not pull closer to the defending champions, as Santos stepped up late in the game. A basket of his in the 47.2 seconds mark and a pair of charities off a Yap blocking foul with 32.4 remaining were enough to seal the seven-point victory and the first semis slot.
With the Beermen’s effort, Austria is nothing but elated with the way his players delivered, as this win lifted them a step closer in succesfully defending their All-Filipino crown.
Chris Ross added 13 points, while Marcio Lassiter and Gabby Espinas chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively.
“Itong mga players, makikita mo na even in the last 2 games of the elims, we’re already in the playoffs, ayaw nila magpatalo. Sabi ko sa kanila it’s a good habit dahil nade-develop ang kanilang killer instinct,” the three-time PBA champion coach shared. “Sabi ko sa kanila, sana every game, you have to play to win. And ang mabuti sa mga players na ito, they understand how to win.”
Rain or Shine was led by Belga with 18 markers on 8-of-16 shooting. Jay Washington had 16 points and eight boards. Jericho Cruz had 14, while Maverick Ahanmisi and Jewel Ponferrada had 12 and 10, respectively.
SMB shot 34 of 75 from the floor, and outrebounded RoS 57-44. However, RoS had more assists, 17-13; more second chance points, 22-16; and had more points off turnovers, 13-9.
San Miguel 98 – Garcia 25, Fajardo 14, Santos 13, Ross 13, Lassiter 11, Espinas 10, Cabagnot 9, Tubid 3, De Ocampo 0.
Rain or Shine 91 – Belga 18, Washington 16, Norwood 14, Ahanmisi 12, Ponferada 10, Yap 9, Chan 6, Cruz 4, Matias 2, Tolomia 0, Tiu 0, Trollano 0.
Quarterscores: 28-21, 51-38, 74-67, 98-91