Beermen survive Bossing, clinch twice-to-beat incentive

San Miguel emerged victorious against a determined Blackwater side, securing a 125-117 win and clinching a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal round of the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup.

Bennie Boatwright continued his impressive performance by scoring 44 points highlighted by 8-of-17 shooting from beyond the arc. His contribution proved crucial in overcoming the final obstacle in their quest for a Top 4 finish.

In addition, the team celebrated the return of June Mar Fajardo, who had been sidelined for six weeks due to a fractured left hand. The 7-time league MVP showcased his versatility with 11 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

The league’s winningest franchise finished the eliminations on a 5-game winning streak and an 8-3 record.

“This is our first ladder. Our first goal was to get into the Top 4 for the twice-to-beat advantage. And we did that,” said SMB head coach Jorge Gallent during the post-game presser.

“So now we have to work on our quarterfinal stint. As of now we don’t know who we will play. We have to prepare against the team that we’re gonna play in the quarterfinals. So this five-game winning streak is out already. This is ladder one, so we’re going to ladder two now.”

The Beermen held a commanding 17-point advantage at one point, the Bossing, however, made a strong comeback in the final frame thanks to the hot shooting of Chris Ortiz. The Jeffrey Cariaso-mentored squad managed to narrow the gap to just one point, 107-106, with still 6:21 left on the game clock.

San Miguel refused to buckle down and kept Blackwater at bay with a 7-0 blast, thanks to the combined efforts of Fajardo, Chris Ross and Don Trollano.

“We just relaxed. But at the end of it, they stayed composed, and when it went down to one, they knew where to go and where to pass the ball. You know I’m very blessed with these players that when it comes to crunch time, they know what to do,” said Gallent.

Ortiz came close to replicating Boatwright’s performance by scoring 43 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, and issuing five assists. The Puerto Rican native drained six out of twelve three-point attempts in 45 minutes of action.

Ortiz’s impressive performance still proved insufficient as the Bossing absorbed their 10th straight defeat and bowed out of the conference with a 1-10 record.

The scores:

San Miguel 125 – Boatwright 44, Perez 15, Romeo 14, Cruz 12, Fajardo 11, Trollano 10, Tautuaa 8, Ross 6, Teng 5, Lassiter 0.

Blackwater 117 – Ortiz 43, Hill 14, Suerte 13, Amer 12, Kwukuteye 9, Sena 8, DiGregorio 7, Guinto 4, Ilagan 3, Concepcion 2, Jopia 2, Escoto 0.

Quarterscores: 27-25, 63-51, 98-86, 125-117.

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