Beermen seal twice-to-beat, push Painters to the brink
San Miguel Beer made a crucial six-point binge at endgame to scuttle Rain or Shine, 82-75, and claim an outright Top Four berth in the PBA Governors Cup at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Saturday night.
With the E-Painters threatening at 74-76, Mike Singletary drove against Maverick Ahanmisi for a vital twinner that sparked the Beermen’s 6-0 salvo and secured the seven-point win.
San Miguel, thus, automatically clinched a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals while sending Rain or Shine in a precarious spot at 4-6.
“We knew the importance of this match,” said coach Leo Austria whose team joined TNT KaTropa and Barangay Ginebra in the Top Four for that crucial twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.
Mahindra takes another shot at a Top Four finish in going up against Meralco in a vital tiff at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the same venue.
Slipping outside the Top Eight at 4-6, the E-Painters need to win their last game against the Star Hotshots just to get a playoff crack at the last quarters berth.
They would need to survive no less than four knockout matches if they’re to preserve their long streak of Final Four appearances. In the last nine conferences, only ROS has been a regular Top Four finisher.
To gain some relief in the current tourney, Rain or Shine affected another import change to no avail.
Josh Dollard huffed and puffed for 18 points and nine rebounds in his PBA comeback, failing to provide the boost that the E-Painters badly needed.
Still, the E-Painters put up a tough stand until they were held to a free throw basket in the last 3:04 of play.
They had a chance to pull even at 76 but Beau Belga muffed an attempt from close range. In the next play, Singletary scored off Ahanmisi to give SMB more breathing space.
Singletary finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals against three turnovers. Austria said Singletary would still be evaluated if he would stick it out with the team in the playoffs.
Dollard struggled with a 3-of-8 clip and committed three errors as the E-Painters trailed by 12, 30-42, at the half.
With an all-Filipino starting lineup in Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Jewel Ponferada, Don Trollano and Beau Belga, the E-Painters got to a decent start, dragging the Beermen in a close first-quarter duel, 21-23.
Singletary and Arwind Santos had 11 apiece as they showed the way for their team in the first half.
Meanwhile, not a single ROS player hit the double-digit mark in the first 24 minutes of play. Curiously, Ponferada had nine on three treys.
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