San Miguel advanced to the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal round after defeating NorthPort, 100-95 in Game 2 of their best-of-three quarterfinals series at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, Thursday afternoon.
Finally at full strength with the return of Terrence Romeo, the Beermen had no need for another game winner to dispose of the hard-fighting Batang Pier side.
Multiple players scored in double figures for the Beermen, led by CJ Perez who scored 21 points. Moala Tautuaa, Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos also had significant contributions to lead the league’s winningest team back to the final four after failing to advance past the quarterfinals last season.
Coach Leo Austria said that he expected it to be another dogfight and not an easy walk in the park despite having his full roster available.
“We all know it will not be an easy game because it was a do-or-die for NorthPort. We consider NorthPort as a strong team, that’s why before the game I asked the team to take this game seriously because their (Batang Pier) backs are against the wall and we want to get to the semis right away. We cannot know what will happen if there ever was a third game”, said the 8-time PBA champion mentor.
NorhtPort was able to stand toe-to-toe with San Miguel from start to finish but could not contain the Beermen’s immense firepower.
Perez, who was adjudged as the game’s Best player, also contributed 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Tautuaa finished with 17 points and 4 rebounds while Marcio Lassiter added 15 points, including shooting 4/5 from beyond the arc. 6-time MVP June Mar Fajardo had 12 points and 12 rebounds while Arwind Santos chipped in a double-double of 11 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Terrence Romeo had 11 points but shot a paltry 4-of-12 from the field in his first game back from Achilles injury.
Greg Slaughter led NorthPort with 27 points and 12 rebounds while rookie Jamie Malonzo notched 17 points. Robert Bolick, battling the ferocious SMB defense all game long, struggled from the field but ended up with 12 points and a game-high 14 assists.
San Miguel will face top-seeded TNT Tropang Giga in a best of seven semifinals.