Defending champ San Miguel barrels into Philippine Cup semis
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Defending champions and top seed San Miguel Beermen flexed their muscles and powered past eighth seed Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-91, to book the first semifinals ticket in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday, February 5 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
San Miguel, holding a twice-to-beat advantage, needed only one game to get past Rain or Shine and into the best-of-7 semis, racing to a 15-point lead in the first half and did not falter since.
"Since Rain or Shine beat Blackwater in a playoff, I was a little bit worried because I know Rain or Shine is really a contender," admitted head coach Leo Austria.
"We were having a hard time to beat them although we led (by 16) they keep on catching up. I still believe ROS is a tough team. But unfortunately for them, our players really wanted to win."
RR Garcia sizzled for 5 triples to finish with 25 points to go with 3 assists. Five other Beermen made it to double figures such as June Mar Fajardo, who produced 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Chris Ross had 13 points with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, as Arwind Santos added another double-double of 13 markers and 12 boards. Marcio Lassiter chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Beau Belga paced Rain or Shine with 18 points and 4 rebounds as they rallied several times in the second half, including inching to within 5 points inside the final two minutes but they ran out of time.
Jay Washington collected 16 points with 8 rebounds while Gabe Norwood posted 14 points, grabbed 8 boards, and dished out 3 dimes. Maverick Ahanmisi and Jewel Ponferada had 12 and 10 markers, respectively, as the Painters exited early in the playoffs in Caloy Garcia's first conference as head coach.
The Beermen will await the winner between TNT and GlobalPort's best-of-3 quarters matchup with the KaTropa leading that series 1-0.
San Miguel (98): Garcia 25, Fajardo 14, Sntos 13, Ross 13, Lassiter 11, Espinas 10, Cabagnot 9, Tubid 3, De Ocampo 0.
Rain or Shine (91): Belga 18, Washington 16, Norwood 14, Ahanmisi 12, Ponferada 10, Yap 9, Chan 6, Cruz 4, Matias 2, Tolomia 0, Tiu 0, Trollano 0.
Quarter scores: 28-21, 51-38, 74-67, 98-91.