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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The San Miguel Beermen used a huge third quarter rally to blast the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 105-92, and tie the best-of-7 semifinals series at 2-2 in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup on Monday, January 11 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen, who bounced back from a Game 3 loss, pounded the shorthanded Painters, exploding for a 23-3 run to build a 84-64 lead with over a minute left in the third period.
As guard Paul Lee fouled out with 2.7 ticks remaining in that frame, San Miguel took a 90-68 advantage entering the fourth and coasted the rest of the way.
Reigning back-to-back MVP June Mar Fajardo, who sparked the game-changing rally with 5 straight points, dominated with 33 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 blocks.
“I’m glad we were able to solve our first quarter. Usually we have a bad start but this time it was our turn (to have a good start) and we’re able to control the tempo of the game,” said head coach Leo Austria.
San Miguel set the pace of the game from the start, racing to a 19-7 lead and maintained their intensity despite Rain or Shine catching up from time to time.
“This time the players really followed our game plan except in the last two minutes when we were leading by 18 points because we need to be smart, especially in the endgame.”
Four other Beermen were in double figures led by marksman Marcio Lassiter with 20 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from long range to go with 7 rebounds.
Arwind Santos had 19 markers and 7 boards while Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Both guards combined for 10 rebounds.
“That’s the thing that’s missing in our team before because of a long lay-off and you cannot identify which players can play at this level of intensity,” Austria said of the better support Fajardo received from his teammates.
“I think slowly we’re gaining some familiarity here in the game and familiarity again with each and every one of the players.”
Rookies Maverick Ahanmisi and Don Trollano topscored for the Painters with 15 points apiece off the bench. Ahanmisi added 7 rebounds and 3 assists while Trollano chipped in 5 boards.
Jewel Ponferada finished with 13 points while JR Quiñahan had 12 markers and 6 boards. Lee, who was whistled for a technical foul for continuous complaining and a blocking foul on Gabby Espinas to send him to the bench, had 10 points.
Veteran guard Jeff Chan barely made any attempts, going one-of-5 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line for 7 points.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo asserted himself in the paint and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds against Rain or Shine’s smaller frontline that’s missing lanky big man Raymond Almazan, who sprained his right ankle before Game 3.
“We got out-rebounded terribly and we’re missing Raymond in that department,” rued Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao, whose team had a 59-37 discrepancy in rebounding. “If you lose by that many rebounds, there’s no way we can win the game.”
Guard Jericho Cruz, who usually serves as a spark off the bench, was in uniform but did not play. He suffered a left knee injury towards the end of the Painters’ victory over the Beermen in Game 3.
“The good news is there are no major damages on his knee. It will just be up to him, if he wants to play on Wednesday I will use him and if his doctor will recommend he can play then we will play him. We need him,” Guiao said, adding Cruz’s knee is hyperextended but does not need surgery.
“We did not run as much as we wanted in this game. We would have wanted to run, we kind of missed Jericho there. He’s probably our best finisher in transition and he couldn’t contribute today.”
Game 5 is on Wednesday, January 13 at 7 pm. (SCHEDULE: 2016 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals)
#PBA: Coach Leo Austria interview after San Miguel defeated Rain or Shine in Game 4Posted by Jane Yvette Bracher on Monday, 11 January 2016
San Miguel (105): Fajardo 33, Lassiter 20, Santos 19, Ross 13, Cabagnot 12, Tubid 5, Espinas 3, Arana 0, Lutz 0, Omolon 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.
Quarter scores: 28-25, 53-46, 90-68, 105-92.