SAN Miguel Beer and Magnolia are back to square one but the former has the momentum, thanks to last Wednesday’s victory in Game 4 of their PBA Philippine Cup championship duel.
The Beermen tied the best-of-7 series at two games apiece following their 114-98 spanking of the Hotshots in Game 4 that saw June Mar Fajardo validate his Best Player of the Conference plum he received prior to the game.
Fajardo, who clinched his sixth straight BPC award in the All-Filipino conference and eighth overall (counting his BPC awards in 2015 Governors’ Cup and 2018 Commissioner’s Cup) finished with 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in a yeoman job that helped the Beermen beat the Hotshots, 114-98.
It was, in the words of SMB coach Leo Austria, ‘the kind of game we’re looking for our team’.
“From start to finish, we were able to sustain our energy and it’s a matter of team effort,” said Austria. “We were able to score a lot in the shaded area.”
Austria noted that his other shooters were also able to make their shots in Game 4, unlike in Game 3 where he said, the Beermen took – and missed -- plenty of attempts from the three-point area.
“Maybe that’s the reason why we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds to our opponents (during Game 3). Tonight, hindi kami nagkakalayo,” offered Austria.
The truth was, the Beermen outrebounded the Hotshots in Game 4, 53-46, as Fajardo carefully took care of the low post, while making excellent ball rotation that resulted into having more assists, 24-12.
The Game 4 win gave the Beermen great momentum as they seek to grab the upperhand for the first time in the series now reduced to a best-of-3 affair.
“This could be the turning point,” said Austria, adding that had the Hotshots beaten them, his Beermen would have been in deep trouble.
“I hope we sustain our energy next game,” added Austria, whose Beermen will try to ride the momentum of that win in their crucial Game 5 tussle set at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero meanwhile is fully convinced Fajardo wreaked big havoc on his Hotshots, and that, he said they need to find a way to stop the 6-foot-11 slotman if they are to rebound.
"Na-dominate ni June Mar ngayon ‘yung game, I think ang taas ng percentage niya sa paint,” admitted Victolero.
“We need to do a good job next time on June Mar sa poste. Almost 100 percent yata ‘yung field goal niya," added Victolero.
The Beermen are looking to win a record fifth straight title in the prestigious conference and their 26th title overall.
The Hotshots, who are meeting the Beermen for sixth time in the All-Filipino finals, are gunning for their seventh title in the same conference and second under Victolero.