MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel could not have asked for more from June Mar Fajardo as its bid for a fifth straight Philippine Cup championship remained alive.
Fajardo went a perfect 11-of-11 from the field and finished with game-highs of 32 points and 14 rebounds to propel San Miguel to a 96-86 win over TNT in a do-or-die quarterfinals Game 3 on Wednesday, April 10.
The Beermen teetered on the brink of seeing their All-Filipino reign end after the KaTropa forced a rubber match in the best-of-three series with a gritty 93-88 Game 2 win two nights ago.
But the reigning five-time PBA MVP knew how high the stakes were and submitted his best game of the series.
"[A]yaw pa namin magpahinga, ayaw pa namin umuwi, ayaw pa namin magbakasyon. Mabuti nag-step up lahat," Fajardo told reporters after the game.
(We didn't want to rest, we didn't want to go home, we didn't want to go on a vacation. Fortunately, everybody stepped up.)
San Miguel always played catchup basketball in the first half of the first two games, but it was not the case in Game 3 as it buried TNT by as much as 26 points at halftime.
A big reason for the Beermen's fiery start was Fajardo, who chalked up 20 of his output in the first two quarters.
"Kailangan lang namin itaas 'yung energy namin," he said. "First two games namin, nalamangan kaagad kami nila, slow start kami lagi. So ngayon, strong start kami, nasunod namin 'yung game plan namin."
(We just needed to raise our energy. In our first two games, TNT always held the lead because we always had slow starts. Now, we had a strong start and we executed the game plan.)
San Miguel's mettle will be tested as it clashes with top-ranked Phoenix in a best-of-seven semifinals duel. – Rappler.com
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.