PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Cruz, Ross steady in endgame as San Miguel fends off Ginebra fightback

Delfin Dioquino

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Cruz, Ross steady in endgame as San Miguel fends off Ginebra fightback

ATTACK. Chris Ross in action for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

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Jericho Cruz and Chris Ross come up clutch as San Miguel weathers a fourth-quarter storm by Ginebra to arrest a two-game skid

MANILA, Philippines – Jericho Cruz doused cold water on a fiery Barangay Ginebra comeback and steered San Miguel to a 95-82 triumph in the Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, December 15.

Cruz scored 9 of his 16 points in the final five minutes as the Beermen, who enjoyed a lead as big as 24 points, weathered the Gin Kings’ fourth-quarter storm to arrest their two-game skid and improve to a 4-3 record.

Ginebra still trailed 55-77 at the start of the final salvo before Tony Bishop, Von Pessumal, and Sidney Onwubere joined hands in a 20-2 blast that cut their deficit to just 4 points.

Quiet all game long, Bishop sank a booming three-pointer with 5:20 minutes left to cap the run that pulled the Gin Kings within 75-79, much to the delight of the partisan Ginebra crowd at the Big Dome.

But Cruz took over down the stretch.

Cruz answered Bishop with his own triple and scattered 5 more points in a 13-0 burst he and Chris Ross engineered that firmly put the Beermen ahead at 92-75 with less than two minutes remaining.

Ross – who showed the way in the win with 22 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals – scored the other 5 points of that run.

Traded twice earlier this week from NLEX to NorthPort to San Miguel, Don Trollano enjoyed a solid debut for the Beermen with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block as a starter.

Ross and Trollano were practically responsible for San Miguel pulling away as they combined for 23 points in a big second quarter that saw them outscore the Gin Kings, 32-16.

The two scored 14 points in the first half, helping the Beermen swing a measly 24-22 lead at end of the opening quarter to a 56-36 cushion at halftime.

Import Ivan Aska chimed in 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals for San Miguel, while Terrence Romeo fired 9 points in his return from a four-game absence caused by a knee injury.

CJ Perez added 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in the win, including the free throw that gave the Beermen their biggest lead at 67-43 with under seven minutes left in the third quarter.

Bishop posted 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 steals, and 2 blocks for Ginebra, which absorbed its second straight loss and fell to 4-3.

Maverick Ahanmisi put up 13 points and 6 rebounds, while Pessumal and Jamie Malonzo tallied 11 points apiece.

The Scores

San Miguel 95 – Ross 22, Trollano 16, Cruz 16, Perez 13, Aska 10, Romeo 9, Tautuaa 6, Lassiter 3, Brondial 0.

Barangay Ginebra 82 – Bishop 20, Ahanmisi 13, Malonzo 11, Pessumal 11, Pringle 10, J.Aguilar 6, Standhardinger 4, Tenorio 3, Onwubere 3, Cu 1, Gumaru 0.

Quarters: 24-22, 56-36, 73-52, 95-82.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.