Defending champions San Miguel Beermen inched closer to another PBA Governors’ Cup title, running away with a 114-110 victory over NLEX in the quarterfinals stages Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The second-seeded Beermen, who finished the eliminations with an 8-3 record, had a twice-to-beat advantage over the Road Warriors will face the winner between Barangay Ginebra- Alaska series in the semifinals.
San Miguel had a 112-105 buffer with 22 seconds left after Alex Cabagnot’s basket but five unanswered points saw the Road Warriors cut the deficit to a single possession, 112-110, with 3.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
Elijah Millsap then converted his free throws at the 2.4-second mark to ice the game and the semifinal spot for the defending champions.
Beermen head coach Leo Austria said the game would be a “learning lesson for them” after they squandered their momentum in the first half to the revved up Road Warriors.
“When we get a double-digit lead, the tendency is to relax,” said Austria, whose team had a 63-48 lead to end the first half. “I told them before the game we scored 102 points per game but we give up 100 points.”
“We will not win if we don’t improve on defense.”
San Miguel was lights out from the field shooting 38-of-72 for 53 percent, but allowed NLEX to make 40 of its 88 attempts.
If it wasn’t for the Beermen’s 26 made free throws against the Road Warriors’ 16, the game would’ve had a much different atmosphere.
Millsap had 39 points and 11 rebounds for San Miguel while defending MVP June Mar Fajardo had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists.
Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter also finished in double figures with 14 points apiece while one-time MVP Arwind Santos filled up the stat sheets with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Henry Walker had a game-high 45 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Road Warriors.