PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Red-hot San Miguel rolls into finals as Ginebra suffers unprecedented sweep

Delfin Dioquino

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Red-hot San Miguel rolls into finals as Ginebra suffers unprecedented sweep

LAYUP. CJ Perez in action for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

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San Miguel becomes the first team to sweep Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-five series in over a decade as it advances to the PBA Commissioner's Cup finals on a nine-game winning streak

MANILA, Philippines – It was never really the intention, but San Miguel nevertheless completed its sweet revenge against Barangay Ginebra.

The Beermen booked their place in the finals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup after a semifinal sweep of the Gin Kings capped with a 94-91 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, January 28.

Swept by Ginebra in the semifinals of the Governors’ Cup last season, San Miguel returned the favor as it wrapped up the best-of-five affair in just three games behind another prolific performance from import Bennie Boatwright.

But Beermen head coach Jorge Gallent made it clear that the goal simply was to beat the Gin Kings, no matter how many games it took.

“Never was,” said Gallent when asked if their semifinal loss last year served as an added motivation for San Miguel. “Coming into this series, our mentality was to move forward, whether by three, or four, or five.”

Boatwright finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds as the Beermen nailed their ninth straight win en route to their first finals appearance since the Philippine Cup last year and first in the Commissioner’s Cup since 2019.

It was the locals, though, who took over in the fourth quarter, with CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz, Marcio Lassiter, and June Mar Fajardo hitting big shots down the stretch.

Ginebra trailed 79-83 with under eight minutes left before San Miguel unleashed a 7-0 blitz ended by a Perez three-pointer for a 90-79 lead.

Although the Gin Kings got within 89-92 inside the final 40 seconds and earned a shot at an equalizer when Boatwright surprisingly missed a pair of crucial free throws, they shot themselves in the foot with a costly turnover.

Fajardo then coolly sank his foul shots with under 10 ticks remaining to effectively seal the win, finishing with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds with 3 assists and 2 blocks.

“It’s just composure. The players were very composed, especially in the endgame,” said Gallent.

“These three games were all close. It was anybody’s ball game. It’s very nice to come out in the end with the victory. We’re just composed to win and composed in the end, which is good.”

Cruz supplied 17 points for his highest scoring outing of the semifinals, Lassiter put up 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals, while Perez added 11 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.

Import Tony Bishop tallied 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals for Ginebra, which got swept in a best-of-five series for the first time since it bowed to Alaska in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup finals.

Scottie Thompson posted 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, and combined for 15 rebounds.

The loss proved to be a double whammy for the Gin Kings as Jamie Malonzo (10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists) left the game in the third quarter due to a knee injury.

Enjoying an extra couple of days off before the finals, San Miguel waits for the winner of the other semifinal pairing between Magnolia and Phoenix.

The Scores

San Miguel 94 – Boatwright 26, Cruz 17, Lassiter 14, Perez 11, Fajardo 11, Trollano 6, Teng 6, Ross 3, Brondial 0, Tautuaa 0.

Barangay Ginebra 91 – Bishop 25, Thompson 17, J. Aguilar 12, Malonzo 10, Standhardinger 10, Tenorio 8, Pringle 5, Pinto 2, Ahanmisi 2.

Quarters: 21-18, 43-42, 75-69, 94-91.

– 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.