San Miguel finishes off NorthPort, forges duel vs TNT
Game Friday (DHVSU Gym, Bacolor)
6 p.m. – NLEX vs Meralco (quarterfinals knockout)
MANILA, Philippines – The stage is set for a titanic semifinal duel between TNT, the dominant top seed, and San Miguel Beer, the No. 4 squad that tainted its otherwise perfect run.
With TNT waiting in the wings, the Beermen took care of business and finished off No. 5 NorthPort, 100-95, to seal the explosive matchup in the 46th PBA Philippine Cup Thursday in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Beermen seized a 13-point spread in the third and kept the Batang Pier at bay the rest of the way en route to a follow-up to their thrilling 88-87 Game 1 escape act and a 2-0 sweep in the short quarterfinal series.
“Sabi ni coach (Leo Austria), matagal nang hindi nag-semis ang San Miguel, halos dalawang taon, kaya importante itong panalong ito,” said CJ Perez, who top-scored for victorious SMB with 21 points and secured his first career semis stint.
Before this, the Beermen haven’t been in the Last-4 since the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup, the last title they’ve won. The powerhouse squad crashed out in the quarterfinals of that year’s season-ending Governors’ Cup and the 2020 All-Filipino in Clark.
Next up for SMB are the Tropang Giga, who punched the first ticket to the best-of-seven semis with an 84-71 ouster of eighth-seeded deposed champ Ginebra last Wednesday. Austria's troops brace for a high-powered opponent intent on avenging its lone loss of the tournament, 67-83, last Sept. 8.
“TNT is deserving to be No. 1 and it just happens nagkaroon kami ng opportunity na talunin sila noong eliminations, That gave us some confidence but the semifinals is a different story. We know they’re on a roll, they’re playing beautiful basketball and it’s tough to beat TNT,” said Austria,
SMB used a balanced assault that featured seven players, including comebacking Terrence Romeo, in double figures in disposing of the Sean Anthony-less Batang Pier. Aside from Perez, Mo Tautuaa (17), Marcio Lassiter (15), June Mar Fajardo (12 points and 12 rebounds), Chris Ross (11-9-6), Arwind Santos (11-13) and Romeo (11) scored significantly.
Greg Slaughter turned in a 27-point, 12-rebound effort to lead NorthPort, which only got 12 from gunner Robert Bolick.
San Miguel Beer 100 – Perez 21, Tautuaa 17, Lassiter 15, Fajardo 12, Ross 11, Romeo 11, Santos 11, Cabagnot 2, Pessumal 0.
NorthPort 95 – Slaughter 27, Malonzo 17, Onwubere 14, Bolick 12, Taha 9, Balanza 8, Rike 5, Doliguez 3, Elorde 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 46-39, 74-66, 100-95
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