San Miguel finishes off NorthPort, forges duel vs TNT

San Miguel finishes off NorthPort, forges duel vs TNT

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.

The scores:

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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