The San Miguel Beermen are 2-0 in their semifinal series with the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters after a 87-81 routing of their old foes, Sunday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Talk ‘N Text had a seemingly fiery start in the first quarter, building a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes, but the Beermen responded in kind with a 11-0 blitz capped by back-to-back three-pointers from Arwind Santos to overtake the Tropang Texters 11-5 at the halfway point of the period. Powered by three treys from Alex Cabagnot, the Beermen led by as many as 10, 23-13, later in the quarter. After fending off a last minute rally from the Tropang Texters, they exited the period with a 25-19 lead.
The Beermen held on to the lead for most of the second period, staying one step ahead to stifle any run by the Tropang Texters. With just a little more than a minute left on the clock, the Tropang Texters finally came within striking distance, cutting the lead to one, 38-39. They managed to stay within the one-point range at the end of the quarter, with the score at 41-40 at halftime.
A split free throw charity from Matt Ganuelas-Rosser forced the game’s first deadlock at 41-all in the first minute of the second half, and a trey from Jayson Castro followed soon after, giving Talk ‘N Text their first taste of the lead since early in the first quarter, 44-41. The Tropang Texters proved to be the quicker draw in the ensuing shootout, holding on to the narrow lead for most of the period, but the Beermen managed to steal back the lead with just a little less than two minutes in the quarter, 59-56, care of baskets from Cabagnot and Rico Maierhofer. They closed out the quarter with the lead in their hands once more, 63-61.
Things took a heated turn in the fourth quarter, with the two squads trading baskets, leads, and elbows early in the period. A 7-0 rally capped by a basket from June Mar Fajardo gave the Beermen their biggest lead since the first quarter, 78-71, with around five minutes left on the clock.
The Tropang Texters addressed the challenge, forcing a one-point game, 82-81, entering the last two minutes following a jumper from Larry Fonacier. The basket however was answered by two free throws from Fajardo on the other end to extend the lead back to three, 84-81. The Tropang Texters managed to hold on to possession of the ball for several seconds afterwards, but could not get their shots to fall. With less than 40 ticks left in the ball game, the reigning MVP Fajardo finally corralled the ball for San Miguel, and after drawing the foul, sank two free throws to extend the lead to five, 86-81. The Beermen continued to deny the Tropang Texters the chance to mount a comeback, and went on to exit the game victorious.
Veteran sharpshooter Cabagnot, playing in only his second game for the Beermen since being traded back to the San Miguel Company-owned franchise at the end of the elimination round, had 21 points, nine of which came from three triples in the first quarter. Fajardo, who was scoreless in the first quarter, made up for what he lacked in field goals via the free throw line, scoring 11 of his 15 points from charities. He also had 12 rebounds in the game. Jayson Castro had 26 points and nine assists for the Tropang Texters.
San Miguel is currently 2-0 in the series, two wins short of advancing to the finals. The series resumes Tuesday evening.