San Miguel fends off Ginebra, closes in on PBA PH Cup crown

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@RLeongsonINQ

09:51 PM March 3rd, 2017

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By: Randolph B. Leongson, March 3rd, 2017 09:51 PM
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

San Miguel caught fire early and fended off Ginebra’s late rally to pull off the 94-85 victory and move a win away from snaring the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen on fire from the get-go, starting the game on an 11-0 run and nailing 11 triples in the first two quarters to raise the lead to 55-34 at halftime.

San Miguel extended the advantage to 26, 60-34, early in the third quarter, but the Gin Kings leaned on Joe Devance and slowly chipped away the deficit to get to as close as seven, 92-85, after a layup from Aljon Mariano with 1:17 remaining.

However, time wasn’t on Ginebra’s side and June Mar Fajardo, who earlier claimed his fifth Best Player of the Conference award, capped the win with a layup off a steal with the time winding down.

Chris Ross waxed hot from three, going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, even as the Beermen went on a 15-of-34 three-point shooting clip. He finished with 17 points, nine assists, and four rebounds.

“I’m happy to see him knocking down those shots,” said coach Leo Austria on Ross’ sweet-shooting night.

Fajardo paced San Miguel with 20 markers, 13 boards, three assists, two blocks, while Marcio Lassiter had 20 points on a 3-of-7 sniping from three, alongside four dimes, and three rebounds, four assists.

The victory propelled the Beermen to a 3-1 series lead, but Austria refused to feel comfortable with team’s position.

“Three-1 is a commanding lead, but we’re not sure yet. Coach Tim (Cone) is a good coach and he has been in this situation so the possibility is still there,” he said.

Joe Devance was the lone bright spot for the Gin Kings as he wound up with 22 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Ginebra also struggled to go toe-to-toe with San Miguel’s high-octane offense, going on a dismal 5-of-22 clip from beyond the arc.

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