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SMB fights back, ties series behind Fajardo’s 33



After having carried his team for the past two games, both resulting in losses, PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo finally had support.

Former MVP Arwind Santos and former National team stalwart Marcio Lassiter combined for 39 points, as the San Miguel Beermen knotted the series at two-all with a 105-92 win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters Monday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

48 hours ago, Fajardo’s 40-point, 20-rebound game efforts were destroyed by Rain or Shine, as the latter took the series lead. After tonight, he made sure his 33 points and 15 rebounds would make the difference.

Playing with a visible sense of urgency early on, San Miguel poured it on swiftly and jumped out to an early 19-7 lead in less than six minutes. They also played zone that forced the Painters to lower percentage shots, while the Beermen had already gotten offensive contributions from all their starters.

However, Rain or Shine responded and shrugged off their slow start after their initial timeout, as they started to attack quick and built a 15-5 counter. Their defense also slowed SMB’s scoring and limited the touches of the big men.

In the first five minutes of the second quarter, San Miguel paraded a defensive five-man lineup on the floor, which only yielded six points from Chris Ross. Balanced offense for the Painters finally got them the lead with 5 minutes to play in the first half capped by a JR Quiñahan basket. Fortunately for the Beermen, Marcio Lassiter’s 4/4 shooting from downtown powered them to a 9-0 finish, and a 53-46 at the break.

The third quarter was a back-and-forth display of runs for both teams. San Miguel made the first rally after scoring seven straight to answer Don Trollano’s initial three-ball. Halfway through the period, Rain or Shine tied the game at 61 after Gabe Norwood and Maverick Ahanmisi making jumpers.

However, the game-deciding run was made the Beermen afterwards, as they closed out the canto on a punishing 29-7 outburts, led by June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos. The Beermen dominated the game during the stretch, while they also fished for Paul Lee’s sixth and final foul with an entire quarter to play.

Looking to put the nail in the coffin, SMB fielded their main guns to start the final period, resulting in the Beermen maintaining their comfortable spread. Rain or Shine made a couple of threes late but a number of offensive boards fell into the hands of San Miguel to milk the clock and ultimately take Game Four.

Back in Game 3, Rain or Shine had 30 points in transition. After the game, SMB’s star big man pointed out that their defense was key in limiting Rain or Shine’s running attack. Fajardo shared, “na-stop namin fastbreak nila. Yun talaga yung problema namin eh. Yung last game namin mataas fast break points nila”.

San Miguel committed less errors and dominated the rebounding battle, 10-16 and 59-36 respectively. Furthermore, they had 52 points in the paint compared to the Painters’ 34.

Ahanmisi and Trollano each had 15 points to pace the Elasto Painters off the bench. Ponferada added 13 in the loss.

Game 5 is set to played on Wednesday

The Scores:
San Miguel (105) – Fajardo 33, Lassiter 20, Santos 19, Ross 13, Cabagnot 12, Tubid 5, Espinas 3, Lutz 0, Reyes 0, Arana 0
Rain or Shine (92) – Ahanmisi 15, Trollano 15, Ponferada 13, Quinahan 12, Lee 10, Tiu 8, Chan 7, Norwood 6, Belga 4, Ibanes 2
Quarterscores: 28-25, 53-46, 90-68, 105-92