PBA Commissioner’s Cup

More than just ‘Death Five’: San Miguel flaunts depth to zero in on finals return

Delfin Dioquino

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More than just ‘Death Five’: San Miguel flaunts depth to zero in on finals return

CELEBRATE. Bennie Boatwright (right) and Jeron Teng in action for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

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San Miguel repeats over Ginebra as it moves on the cusp of returning to the PBA Commissioner's Cup finals for the first time since 2019

MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel is more than just its vaunted starting lineup.

Beermen head coach Jorge Gallent made that crystal clear as San Miguel moved on the cusp of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals with as 106-96 victory over Barangay Ginebra at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, January 26.

“Everybody’s good here. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t good,” said Gallent.

Import Bennie Boatwright erupted for 38 points to propel San Miguel to a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinals as he rediscovered his scoring ways after being limited to a conference-low 23 points in Game 1.

Game 1 hero CJ Perez delivered again with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals, while reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo shone on both ends with a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double on top of a career-high 6 blocks plus 3 steals.

Marcio Lassiter also regained his touch, netting 16 points off four three-pointers as he scored in double figures for the first time in 10 games.

While the starters – or what Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone called the new version of the “Death Five” lineup – showed the way for the Beermen, their reserves also made key contributions.

For example, Jeron Teng tallied 7 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal in just under nine minutes of action as he featured prominently in the third and fourth quarters to help San Miguel create some separation.

Back-to-back Teng buckets to start the fourth period gave the Beermen an 80-74 lead before Boatwright, Fajardo, Perez, and Lassiter took over the rest of the way.

“There’s no Death Five here. It’s Death Fifteen,” said Gallent.

Riding on an eight-game winning streak, San Miguel is just a victory away from returning to the Commissioner’s Cup finals for the first time since 2019.

“This is a very strong team we have. We have a really strong group and everyone can contribute,” said Lassiter.

“It can be anyone tonight for us. That’s the quality of our confidence in our team.”

Jamie Malonzo put up 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in the losing effort that has Ginebra teetering on the brink of being swept in a best-of-five series for the first time since the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup finals.

The Gin Kings badly missed the production of Christian Standhardinger, who got held to just 9 points with 14 rebounds and 3 assists.

Ginebra import Tony Bishop posted 25 points and 9 rebounds in the defeat.

The Scores

San Miguel 106 – Boatwright 38, Perez 17, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 16, Teng 7, Trollano 5, Cruz 4, Tautuaa 2, Brondial 0, Ross 0, Enciso 0

Barangay Ginebra 96 – Malonzo 27, Bishop 25, Ahanmisi 13, Thompson 9, Standhardinger 9, Pringle 6, Pinto 5, J.Aguilar 2, Tenorio 0

Quarters: 23-21, 43-46, 76-74, 106-96.

– 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.