San Miguel is back in the finals for the second straight conference.
The Beermen used a great team effort to hold off the Star Hotshots, 109-102, in Game 4 to advance to the 2017 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alex Cabagnot paved the way for thr Beermen with 26 points, including 4-of-6 from downtown. Chris Ross scored 24, to go along with 10 assists and five steals. June Mar Fajardo had 22 markers and import Charles Rhodes added 21.
“If your team is hardworking, luck is always on your side. I hope magcontinue ito and I hope our team stays hungry. You could see it tonight.. gusto nila manalo,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “I always depend on my players, they know how to win a championship.”
San Miguel now awaits the winner of the semifinals series between Barangay Ginebra and TNT. The Katropa currently holds a 2-1 upperhand.
Holding a 52-49 edge at the half, San Miguel went on a 9-4 surge to begin the third period to open u an eight-point lead. Ian Sangalang scored on consecutive possessions to keep Star in step but a Ross triple at the 5:48 mark made it a 10-point advantage.
Maliksi hit a three of his own to bring the lead back to single digit but Ross again made a trey for SMB. Ratliffe scored on the other end but Ross knocked down his third straight three-pointer to put the Beermen up, 77-66, 3:52 left in the third. After an exchange of misses, Ross stole the ball and found a cutting Arwind Santos for a layup as San Miguel extended the margin to 13, 79-66.
A three-point play from Sangalang cut it to 10, but SMB went on a 9-2 run to go up 88-71 early in the fourth. The Hotshots managed to come within seven, 93-86, with 5:16 remaining, after six straight points Mark Barroca but a pair of free throws and a dunk from Rhodes gave the Beermen another double-digit lead, 97-86. After a Star turnover, Rhodes pounded the ball inside for another deuce before the Hotshots scored on consecutive baskets to pull closer, 99-90, 2:42 left.
Aldrech Ramos drained a three and a jumper from Barroca made it a five-point game. After Marcio Lassiter split from the line, Lee hit a triple to push Star within three, 101-98, 1:25 remaining on the clock. Rhodes was fouled on the other end and made both charities to give SMB a five-point cushion. Star cut it to three on a Ratliffe layup but Lassiter’s free throws pushed SMB’s lead back to five, 29.4 ticks remaining. A miss from the Hotshots and two free throws from Fajardo clinched the win for the Beermen.
Ratliffe had a double-double of 36 points and 17 rebounds in the loss. Maliksi came off the bench for the Hotshots and contributed 16.
SAN MIGUEL 109 – Cabagnot 26, Ross 24, Fajardo 22, Rhodes 21, Lassiter 8, Santos 4, Heruela 3, Espinas 1, Tubid 0.
STAR 102 – Ratliffe 36, Maliksi 16, Barroca 13, Sangalang 11, Ramos 9, Lee 8, Jalalon 6, Simon 3, Melton 0, Reavis 0.
– The Beermen are in the Commissioner’s Cup finals for the first time since 2001, when they lost to Red Bull. The last time the franchise won the Commissioner’s Cup was in 2000.
– Despite the win, SMB was outworked by Star in the rebounding department, 41-33. They also got beat in second chance points (21-9) and bench production (46-8).
– At halftime, the PBA honored Carlos “Bobong” Velez, sports broadcasting visionary and former Vintage boss. He passed away last June 3 at the age of 71. Vintage broadcasted PBA games from 1982 to 2002.
San Miguel – Finals Game 1 vs. TBD