MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel escaped elimination anew by overcoming twice-to-beat NorthPort, 90-88, to reach the semifinals of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, July 24.
Import Chris McCullough, Arwind Santos, and Chris Ross had their fair share of heroics down the stretch as No. 7 Beermen denied the No. 2 Batang Pier what could have been their second semifinals appearance in franchise history.
With their team down 82-86 in the final two minutes, Santos delivered in the endgame for the nth time by knocking down a triple and giving his side an 87-86 lead with a fastbreak layup off a Ross steal.
Robert Bolick took the upper hand back for NorthPort behind a tough one-handed bank shot, only to witness McCullough answer back with a layup of his own for San Miguel.
McCullough – who finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals – then split his freebies to keep the comeback door ajar for the Batang Pier, but Bolick saw his shot from halfcourt fall way short after being bothered by Santos.
Santos put up 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals, Marcio Lassiter added 11 points but did not play the entire second half due to an apparent left knee injury, while Ross chipped in 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.
June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger conjoined for 16 points and 14 rebounds, for San Miguel, which will face the winner between Blackwater and Rain or Shine.
NorthPort looked already out of gas as it trailed by as many as 16 points, 63-79, until it took an 86-82 lead late in the final frame behind 3 straight three-pointers from Garvo Lanete and Sean Anthony.
But the Beermen, the winningest franchise in PBA history, just displayed the championship pedigree they were known for to advance.
Lanete finished with 22 points off 5 triples, Mo Tautuaa had 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, while import Prince Ibeh added 15 points, 20 rebounds, and 7 blocks.
Bolick churned out 13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and Anthony had 10 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
San Miguel 90 – McCullough 31, Lassiter 11, Cabagnot 10, Santos 10, Fajardo 8, Standhardinger 8, Romeo 5, Pessumal 3, Ross 2, Rosser 2.
NorthPort 88 – Lanete 22, Tautuaa 20, Ibeh 15, Bolick 13, Anthony 10, Taha 4, Elorde 2, Ferrer 2, Mercado 0, Cruz 0.
Quarters: 21-27, 43-39, 72-62, 90-88.
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