MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel averted disaster and held off Meralco, 96-91, to regain the upper hand in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals clash at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, August 7.
June Mar Fajardo knocked down big hits and finished with a huge double-double of 21 points and 16 rebounds on top of 2 blocks as the Beermen gained a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series.
Buried by as deep as 10 points, the Bolts stormed back and trimmed their deficit to 84-88 with two minutes left before Fajardo scored 4 unanswered points that practically secured the win for his side.
The Best Player of the Conference frontrunner scattered 10 points in the fourth period, including the free throw that gave San Miguel its biggest advantage of the game at 83-73.
CJ Perez led the Beermen in scoring with 26 points to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals as he set the tone in the win by dropping 17 points in the first two quarters for a 46-42 halftime lead.
San Miguel also drew solid contributions from Jericho Cruz and Vic Manuel, who came off the bench and provided 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Chris Ross and Mo Tautuaa made their presence felt in the win with identical numbers of 8 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Led by Chris Newsome and Aaron Black, Meralco got itself back into the game behind an 11-5 run that cut its deficit to just 4 points, 84-88.
But a Fajardo layup and a rushed Raymar Jose three-point attempt in the next two possessions prevented the Bolts from completing their comeback.
Newsome netted 16 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, Black had 15 points and 9 rebounds, while Cliff Hodge put up 12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
Allein Maliksi also posted 15 points in the loss.
San Miguel 96 – Perez 26, Fajardo 21, Cruz 15, Manuel 11, Ross 8, Tautuaa 8, Brondial 4, Lassiter 3, Enciso 0, Herndon 0.
Meralco 91 – Newsome 16, Maliksi 15, Black 15, Hodge 12, Jose 9, Banchero 8, Quinto 4, Almazan 4, Pasaol 2, Baclao 2.
Quarters: 25-24, 46-42, 71-66, 96-91.