The full might of its marvelous bench on full display, San Miguel mauled Talk ‘N Text, 96-86, and sealed a return trip to the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger went stoppable all gamelong as the two SMB centers compiled big numbers that proved to be the main ingredient in the SMB’s semifinal berth-clinching win.
Fajardo finished with 32 points, 20 of them in the first half, and hauled down 14 rebounds, while Standhardinger chipped in 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds in a rare occasion the two big men both finished the game with flying colors.
The Beermen wrapped up the best-of-3 quarterfinal series, 2-1, and will play Phoenix in the best-of-7 semifinal series. The other semifinalist is Rain or Shine which will play either Ginebra or Magnolia. The sister teams were still playing their rubber match as of press time.
The KaTropa failed to advance again in the semis of the kickoff conference. Last season, they were defeated also by the Beermen in just one game as SMB was the then top seed while they were number 8.
The Beermen dominated the game from start to finish, leading by as many as 80-55, early in the fourth period.
The KaTropa launched a determined comeback from there, but their efforts proved not enough as the Beermen’s margin was simply too big to overhaul.
From 85-59 SMB lead, TNT dropped an 11-3 salvo behind Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Yousef Taha to move within 88-70, but Arwind Santos came up with a triple with 3:45 left to douse cold water on the TNT uprising.
The Beermen’s smooth ball movement was quite evident right from the start. In first half alone, the Beermen were able to dish off 12 assists. They also controlled the rebounds, pulling down 30.
Fajardo finished the entire first half with 20 points and eight rebounds. He scored 10 points including a three-point play when the Beermen built a 13-2 lead early in the game.
Fajardo’s seeming high intensity in both ends rubbed off on the rest, with Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, Terrence Romeo and Mat Rosser also hitting their targets in an offensive which the KaTropa could not seem to find antidote for.
By the end of the opening quarter, the Beermen were already enjoying a 25-10 lead.
The lead snowballed to many as 44-22 as Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, Standhardinger and Lassiter continued to spew fire on the embattled KaTropa.
None from the TNT side managed to score double-figures in the first half, with Jayson Castro and Kelly Williams finishing with just six points each.
Bryan Heruela’s triple broke TNT’s silence, but that was not enough to spark the KaTropa. Instead, the Beermen even outplayed them anew behind Fajardo and Lassiter who combined for a 9-2 tear as SMB hit the turn with a 53-27 lead.
San Miguel (96) - Fajardo 32, Standhardinger 17, Romeo 11, Cabagnot 8, Ross 8, Santos 7, Lassiter 6, Tubid 5, Rosser 2, Pessumal 0, Zamar 0.
TNT (86) - Pogoy 16, Heruela 10, Castro 10, Taha 10, Rosario 10, Williams 9, Bono 6, Reyes 5, A. Semerad 4, Trollano 2, Washington 2, Casino 2, Carey 0, D. Semerad 0.
Quarterscores: 25-10, 53-27, 77-55, 96-86.