MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On a stormy Monday night, two determined teams made it rain 32 three-pointers. One of them made 4 more than the other and was one step closer to their goal.
The San Miguel Beermen connected on 18 three-pointers, including the dagger from Alex Cabagnot with under 3 minutes remaining, for a 114-108 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and a 2-1 lead in their best-of-5 semifinals series in the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup on Monday, July 6 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Head coach Leo Austria’s starters had enough firepower to carry the Beermen as Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and import Arizona Reid combined for 16 of the team’s makes from beyond the arc.
“I think the reason we won over Rain or Shine is we were able to adjust against what they did to us last game,” said Austria, whose team crumbled in the endgame of game 2 despite leading by 20 points. “Our zone defense worked because we cannot sustain our man-to-man defense against them.”
Cabagnot, who sat at courtside in the dark an hour before the game and quietly affirmed confidence in his rhythm tonight, sparked San Miguel with 3 straight three-pointers in the first 6 minutes of the ballgame to account for 13 of his team’s first 19 points.
“I’m happy to see Alex back to his old form,” Austria said as the Beermen maintained a slight edge at halftime, 56-54, despite an up and down affair. “I think he’s the key, especially in the first half.”
Cabagnot finished with 26 points on 5 for 7 treys to go with 5 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals in a productive night of 37:18 minutes on the floor.
Reid had the hottest hand with 7-of-10 triples to comprise the bulk of his 37 markers, including 11 points in the crucial fourth period. The tenacious import also had 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
“AZ Reid did not want to lose. You can see it in his eyes,” Austria said. “He wants to win very badly because this third game is pivotal in getting to the Finals.”
Coming off a career-high game 2, Marcio Lassiter was once again on target from long range with 4-of-6 three-pointers for his 17 points on top of 6 rebounds, 3 assists and two steals. Reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo added 17 markers as well along with 8 boards and a block.
Arwind Santos was the only starter who struggled with just two points and two attempts from the field.
But it did not matter as Austria noted not a single player on his roster wanted to yield.
“What I saw from my players is that nobody wanted to lose, even those sitting on the bench,” he said, as San Miguel pulled away late, putting up a 110-101 advantage with 2:12 remaining on a Reid basket.
Rain or Shine import Wendell McKines tallied 39 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and a block after a career-high game 2 performance.
Paul Lee scattered 22 points including 4-of-5 triples and 5 assists as the Painters tried to fight fire with fire with a total of 14 three-pointers.
Jeff Chan, Rain or Shine’s game 2 hero, finished with 13 points and 3 triples while Gabe Norwood took over late and poured 10 of his 12 points in the payoff period. Chris Tiu added 10 points as Rain or Shine found themselves in a must-win situation come game 4 on Wednesday, July 8.
The Beermen, which moved a win away from their second PBA Finals appearance this season after winning the Philippine Cup title, have history on their side as 39 of 53 teams that won game 3 after a tie best-of-5 series went on to win.
The last time there was no Manny V. Pangilinan or San Miguel-owned team in the PBA Finals was in the 1999 All-Filipino Cup, according to PBA Head Statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
SAN MIGUEL 114 - Reid 37, Cabagnot 26, Lassiter 17, Fajardo 17, Tubid 8, Lutz 7, Santos 2, Ross 0, Omolon 0, Espinas 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 108 - McKines 39, Lee 22, Chan 13, Norwood 12, Tiu 10, Quinahan 5, Ibanes 2, Tang 2, Almazan 2, Cruz Jericho 1, Uyloan 0, Arana 0.
Quarter scores: 26-27, 56-54, 89-82, 114-108.