San Miguel made sure that there would be no monumental collapse this time around as the league’s winningest franchise finally clinched a Finals ticket after finishing off Meralco, 100-89, in Game 7 of the semifinals in the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup, Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Beermen, just like in the previous game, started off strong and built leads as big as 23 but held on this time and never relinquished the advantage until the final buzzer to take the series, 4-3, and secure a place in the championship round of the All-Filipino conference for the first time since 2019.
“That’s a lesson learned for all the players, dahil sinasabi namin kailangan ipakita niyo ‘yung killer instict. That’s the character of the team before,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria during the post-game press conference.
‘Yung mga players na ito ay gustong mag-champion eh. Kailangan ma-motivate pa rin sila ng importance of winning a championship,” he added.
June Mar Fajardo led the Beermen with a monster performance of 29 points on an efficient 12-of-18 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in 38 minutes of action.
“Proud ako sa mga teammates ko. Nag-step up lahat, lalo na sa game na ‘to. Sana tuloy-tuloy hanggang Finals,” said the 32-year Fajardo who was adjudged as best player of the match.
CJ Perez added 18 points while Marcio Lassiter, Vic Manuel and Jericho Cruz chipped in 16, 13 and 12 markers, respectively.
Cliff Hodge paced the Bolts with 23 points while Chris Newsome finished with 14.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven Finals series between the flagship teams of the SMC and MVP groups is on Sunday, August 21, 6:00pm at the same venue.
San Miguel 100 – Fajardo 29, Perez 18, Lassiter 16, Manuel 13, Cruz 12, Tautuaa 7, Enciso 5, Brondial 0.
Meralco 89 – Hodge 23, Newsome 14, Black 13, Almazan 12, Banchero 8, Hugnatan 8, Quinto 7, Maliksi 4, Pasaol 0, Jose 0, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 26-12, 45-31, 73-54, 100-89.