SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – San Miguel further boosted its chances for a top four finish after blasting NorthPort, 120-99, in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Tuesday night at the SMART 5G-powered AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
The Beermen picked up where they left off from their 81-66 victory over Barangay Ginebra last Sunday, pulling away in the second quarter en route to capping off their elimination round campaign with a 7-4 record.
It is now tied with TNT and Alaska at third in the standings although Meralco, Magnolia, and Rain or Shine could still go 7-4 as well, depending on the results of their games in the final elimination round gamedate Wednesday.
“We thought of this game not thinking about what will happen to a lot of scenarios. Five teams can finish at 7-4, many things can happen. But what is important for us is we’re able to win this game,” said Coach Leo Austria.
Arwind Santos led the reigning, five-time champs with 23 points, including five in their 10-0 run that turned a 47-all deadlock to a 57-47 lead at the half that began the one-sided affair He also had 11 rebounds and four assists.
Marcio Lassiter and Mo Tautuaa each produced 21 points apiece, with the former adding seven assists and the latter having nine boards, Bench spark plugs Von Pessumal and Bam Gamalinda had 15 and 12 markers, respectively.
The Beermen led by as many as 34 points, 95-61, following a Paul Zamar three-pointer with 3:58 remaining in the third canto. That shot of his was just one of the 15 triples they made in the rousing conquest of the also-ran NorthPort.
“We’re so happy to get into the playoffs after a week of really thinking what will happen to us because we felt that our team was really struggling because of a lot of injuries. We’re so happy to make it to the quarterfinals,” Austria said.
Chris Ross played for just 10 minutes and 42 seconds, a decision made by Austria. “He wanted to play today but talagang masama eh, very tight ang kanyang mga muscles sa legs,” the decorated mentor explained.
“We don’t want to put his situation in jeopardy because we know we’re in the quarterfinals. We want him to play at least 85 to 90 percent in the quarterfinals,” Austria added as Ross has been playing through pain this season.
Former Beerman Kelly Nabong led the Batang Pier with 29 points and 10 rebounds, although he was booted out of the match with 4:23 left to play after being called for a flagrant foul penalty one on Santos.
Nabong spearheaded the fight for the 1-9 Batang Pier on the night Christian Standhardinger only had 10 and seven. They look to finish the season strong versus the Bolts on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.
San Miguel (120) – Santos 23, Lassiter 21, Tautuaa 21, Pessumal 15, Gamalinda 12, Cabagnot 11, Zamar 9, Comboy 5, Alolino 2, Escoto 1, Mamaril 0, Ross 0.
NorthPort (99) – Nabong 29, Taha 16 , Elorde 14, Cruz 12, Subido 6, Standhardinger 10, Subido 6, Manganti 5, Ferrer 2, Guinto 0.
Quarterscores : 24-30, 57-47, 100-76, 120-99.