PBA: San Miguel marches forward to Finals after mowing down Alaska

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 22, 2018 08:49 PM
PBA: SMB marches forward to Finals after mowing down Alaska
Two years since their last meeting in the Finals, San Miguel still has Alaska's number

San Miguel will be defending its title in the all the way through to the championship round of the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

The Beermen are through to the Finals for the second straight season after a third quarter surge powered them right through Alaska, 104-99, on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

June Mar Fajardo remained a force with 26 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks while reinforcement Renaldo Balkman also took part in the heavy lifting with 23 markers, 16 boards, five assists, and two rejections. “Before the start of the game, I saw in their eyes that they were ready to fight and close this out,” head coach Leo Austria said post-game.

The backcourt duo of Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross also delivered their usual numbers with the former finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists and the latter ending with 17 markers, five boards, and four dishes, respectively.

As always, it was that balance that overwhelmed the Aces as five different players contributed in the 14-4 run that turned a one-point deficit to start the third into a 57-48 advantage midway through the quarter.

Alaska pulled back to within 90-94 inside the last two minutes only to see Cabagnot score all but one point in a 6-2 counter that re-increased the defending champions’ edge to 100-92 with 34.3 ticks to go.

Not long after, San Miguel finished off a 3-1 conquest of their rivals in the best-of-five semifinals series. “Since three years ago, Alaska is one of the toughest teams in the league. That’s why I would like to thank God for this good closeout sa series na ito,” Austria said.

With that, they forged a Finals duel against either Ginebra or Rain or Shine. “You can never know what will happen, but whoever will be our opponent, I think the team is ready,” their always amiable mentor said.

This will be the 40th time in franchise history that the Beermen will be playing in the championship round of a conference.

On the other hand, the Aces fall short of the Finals despite the best effort of American import Diamon Simpson who had 24 points on top of 21 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks as well as Vic Manuel who had 20 markers, seven coming in the last five minutes

Unfortunately, they shot themselves in the foot from the free throw line, only going 10-for-21.

BOX SCORES

SAN MIGUEL 104 – Fajardo 26, Balkman 23, Cabagnot 18, Ross 17, Lassiter 8, Nabong 6, Santos 4, Standhardinger 2, Heruela 0

ALASKA 99 – Simpson 24, Manuel 20, Enciso 19, Casio 15, Teng 6, Racal 4, Exciminiano 4, Magat 3, Thoss 2, Baclao 2, Galliguez 0

QUARTER SCORES: 20-23, 43-44, 76-69, 104-99

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