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MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen were coming off a nine-day break in between games, while the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters entered the semifinals of the 2014-2015 PBA Philippine Cup a few days fresh off a lopsided win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
On Friday, December 19, rest looked more valuable.
The Beermen easily dispatched the Tropang Texters, 109-86, at the Mall of Asia Arena to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 semifinal series behind a dominant performance on both sides of the floor.
Arwind Santos put up MVP-like performance with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while reigning PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo led his team in scoring with 23 points in addition to pulling down 10 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists.
Alex Cabagnot, who was re-acquired by SMB in a trade with GlobalPort a day before the playoffs started, recorded 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in his first game back with the franchise.
San Miguel entered the match no. one in the league in points allowed (77.8 PPG), and 3-point FG % (25.5%). The Texters, who were one of the two teams that beat the Beermen in the elimination round, shot just 33% from the floor and went 6-of-25 from downtown. Thirty of their points came in the fourth quarter, with the game already decided.
“Before the game, I was really nervous,” San Miguel head coach Leo Austria admitted during the post-match presser.
His team won most of the statistical battles against TNT. They shot 46% from the floor, made 9 3-balls, out-rebounded the Tropang Texters 56-39, and dished out more assists, 26-13.
“This is just one game,” Austria said. “So even if we beat them by 30 or whatever, this is just one game. I’m sure they will bounce back next time around.”
“I still respect Talk ‘N Text, because they’re composed of a lot of experienced players.”
71% of winners of game one in best-of-seven series in PBA history have gone on to advance or win the title.
“My boys really tried to salvage this one, because they know the importance of the first game.”
Ranidel De Ocampo was on fire in the opening quarter, where he scored 11 points to help the Tropang Texters establish a 27-20 lead after 12 minutes of play.
Kick-started by a two-handed dunk by Rico Maierhofer, San Miguel turned the momentum to their favor in the second period. An open 3-pointer by Santos, who put up 10 points in the second period, got his offense going, and on defense, his long wingspan blocked passing lanes for TNT, leading to easy steals and scoring opportunities on the break.
De Ocampo and Santos had to be separated at the 3:15 mark of the second quarter after the two figured in a verbal altercation.
De Ocampo didn’t give the Beermen forward the necessary space to properly land following his post-dunk celebration of hanging to the rim, leading to Santos dangerously falling on his counterpart’s shoulders. The former PBA MVP instantly got up to confront De Ocampo, but was quickly pulled back by his teammates. The game’s officials assessed a flagrant foul to RDO after.
San Miguel was able to limit Talk ‘N Text to just 9 points in the second period, giving them a 53-36 lead at the half.
De Ocampo led the Tropang Texters with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Danny Seigle came off the bench to put up 16 points, though most of them came in garbage time.
Late in the game when the match had already been decided, Seigle got tangled with David Semerad. The veteran took the rookie down after fighting for position to get the the rebound and Semerad answered by kicking Seigle. Technical fouls were called but cooler heads prevailed.
Jimmy Alapag recorded 7 points off the bench and hit two 3-pointers that tied him with Ronnie Magsanoc for no. two in the PBA’s all-time list for 3-pointers made in a career with 1,171.
Alapag will have a chance to move past Magsanoc in game two of the series on Sunday, December 21. He needs to hit 72 more 3-balls to move past Allan Caidic (1,242) for no. one in the list.
San Miguel (109): Fajardo 23, Santos 21, Cabagnot 13, Lassiter 10, Tubid 7, Lutz 7, Pascual 6, Kramer 5, Semerad 5, Omolon 4, Fortuna 4, Chua 2, Maierhofer 2, Ross 0
Talk ‘N Text (86): De Ocampo 20, Seigle 16, Washington 9, Alapag 7, Ganuelas-Rosser 7, Castro 6, Espiritu 5, Alas 5, Williams 4, Fonacier 3, Carey 2, Reyes 1, Reyes 0, Aban 0
Quarter Scoring: 20-27, 53-36, 81-56, 109-86
Here are some photos of the game taken by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images