San Miguel moved one win away from the Finals of the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup after defeating Meralco, 89-78, in Game 5 of the semifinal round Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Beermen used a big third quarter to take control of the match after trailing by 3, 41-44, during the halftime break. The league’s winningest franchise outscored the Bolts by 14 points, 26-12, to move into the payoff period with a double-digit advantage which they were able to maintain the rest of the way.
The victory gave the Leo Austria-mentored squad a 3-2 edge in their best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled on Sunday, August 14, 4:30pm at the same venue.
“The momentum, the motivation, I think nasa amin ‘yun. But it’s up to us. This is a situation na kailangan hindi namin i-let go,” said Austria during the post-game presser. “Everybody stepped up. Not only one player. They know what to do. Nagkakaroon sila ng communication. They connected to each other.”
“Sabi ko sa kanila pati mga coaching staff sinasabi, just enjoy the game, let’s run our game. And that’s what happened. And we were able to control it. We were not in a hurry,” added the 8-time PBA champion mentor.
CJ Perez led the charge for the Beermen with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, 2-of-6 coming from three-point country. The top overall pick of the 2018 draft added 9 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and 2 blocks to his tally.
Jericho Cruz, adjudged as the best player of the game, bounced back from a forgettable performance in Game 4 and finished with a stat line of 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocks in 32 minutes of action.
June Ma Fajardo had a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds to go with 4 assists, a steal and 2 blocks while Simon Enciso and Mo Tautuaa chipped in 10 and 9 markers, respectively.