Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
5 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Alaska
This time San Miguel Beer built the double-digit lead where it would be out of reach to the Alaska Aces – late in the fourth quarter.
After blowing a 22-point first quarter margin in the opener, the Beermen put together an 18-point advantage in the closing minutes of Game 2 to come away with a bloody 100-86 victory that leveled at 1-1 the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Action was halted on more than half a dozen occasion as game officials struggled to keep tempers from flaring and numerous scuffles from escalating into graver confrontations.
One incident, however, left SMB team captain Arwind Santos suffering a deep cut on his scalp after getting hit by an elbow from Alaska’s Calvin Abueva halfway through the third quarter, blood flowing down the face of the 2013 MVP.
Santos returned with the wound taped under his headband, leading the Beermen with 22 points on 9 of 16 shooting. Chris Lutz added 20 with 3 3-pointers as with Santos, while June Mar Fajardo came through with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Fajardo got all the rest he needed to stay fresh in the fourth quarter, playing just 35 minutes in contrast to 49 minutes he was hanged out to dry in overtime tin Game 1 where he missed a potential game-winning free throw with 8 seconds left in regulation.
Fajardo was 6 of 8 from the floor, his touches more frequent although his limited field goal attempts still a testament to the Aces’ defense.
“We set aside our loss in Game 1 and told ourselves this is a start of a new series,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “I think we got a little more physical this time. Despite the high intensity of their defense, we were able to break it to some extent.”
SMB used a 13-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to hike a 72-70 edge to 85-72 on a 3-point play by Chris Ross with 8 minutes remaining.
That it was Ross and not ace playmaker Alex Cabagnot inside at that crucial juncture was an adjustment that may have disrupted the Aces somewhat.
Ross had all of his 10 points in the last 12 minutes, keeping the Aces at bay with his clutch shots while making life miserable for Alaska point guard Jvee Casio.
“Ross played well and it is our understanding that whoever is doing a better job will be the one playing,” said Austria. Cabagnot was 3 of 8 from the floor in 17 minutes, a big dip in his numbers that could cost him his spot in the series.