San Miguel flaunted its full strength against NorthPort to reach the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup with a 100-95 win at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Thursday, September 30.
With its key cogs complete following the return of Terrence Romeo, the Beermen spread the wealth with seven players scoring in double figures as they swept the Batang Pier in their best-of-three quarterfinals.
CJ Perez came off the bench and punished NorthPort with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks to lead San Miguel to its first semifinal appearance since the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.
Incidentally, it was also the Batang Pier whom the Beermen beat in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup, bucking a twice-to-beat disadvantage en route to winning the championship.
Mo Tautuaa backstopped Perez with 17 points and 4 rebounds off the bench, Marcio Lassiter fired 15 points off a 4-of-5 clip from long range, while June Mar Fajardo had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
San Miguel also drew prolific performances from Chris Ross, who chimed in 11 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, and Arwind Santos, who put up 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Down by as many as 12 points in the final quarter, NorthPort chiseled away at its deficit and got to within 4 points, 93-97, off back-to-back Greg Slaughter buckets with 34 ticks left.
But the Beermen did not need a game-winner like they did in Game 1 to pull this one out, with Ross and Lassiter sinking three of their four free throws for the safe cushion.
Sidelined for three games due to a hurt foot, Romeo added 11 points and 4 rebounds for San Miguel, which set up a best-of-seven semifinals against top seed TNT.
Slaughter frolicked inside the paint with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the losing effort, while rookie Jamie Malonzo had 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals.
San Miguel 100 – Perez 21, Tautuaa 17, Lassiter 15, Fajardo 12, Romeo 11, Santos 11, Ross 11, Cabagnot 2, Pessumal 0.
NorthPort 95 – Slaughter 27, Malonzo 17, Onwubere 14, Bolick 12, Taha 9, Balanza 8, Rike 5, Doliguez 3, Ferrer 0, Elorde 0.
Quarters: 17-19, 46-39, 74-66, 100-95.