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SMB one win away

Game Tomorrow
(Smart Araneta)
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs San Miguel (Game 6)

The Alaska Aces better get their dancing shoes ready because the San Miguel Beermen are about to waltz back to the finals as well.

Riding the momentum of their Game 4 victory two days ago, the Beermen repulsed the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 103-94, last night to take a 3-2 lead in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup and move within a win of setting up a dream rematch with the Aces in the championship.

Game 6 is tomorrow also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with history against the E-Painters although odds are hardly stacked comfortably on the side of the Beermen. Still, if the defending champions do prevail, they will be facing the vengeful Aces in the best-of-7 Finals which could begin Sunday.

SMB and Alaska, which ousted Globalport in the other semis matchup, waged a fierce battle of attrition through six games during last season’s Philippine Cup championship before the Beermen emerged victorious on a dying-second three-pointer by Arwind Santos in the dramatic Game 7.

RoS looks to gatecrash the party, however, notwithstanding its shorthanded roster and inability so far to contain 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo or SMB’s array of outside gunners. But the E-Painters have to do a better job than Game 5 if it intends to extend the series.

Fajardo had 27 points, Alex Cabagnot 14, Marcio Lassiter and Santos 12 as SMB spread its offense around most often from its point of origin at the low post in the hands of its two-time MVP center. The Beermen hit nine three-pointers and stopped RoS dead on its tracks in fast break points, 16-2.

“We have achieved nothing yet with this win; we need one more,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “We have to continue playing deliberate and methodical.”

A flurry of three-point shots to end the first half gave SMB some breathing room, 50-44, after a tight 24 minutes which saw the return of RoS sophomore Jericho Cruz from a hyper-extended left knee.

The 9th pick overall from Adamson sought to provide the E-Painters some spark but just had two points in seven minutes as he struggled to blend back in while star point guard Paul Lee picked up two fouls, along with Beau Belga, and hardly mattered with a three-point play to open the second period.

SAN MIGUEL 103 – Fajardo 27, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 12, Santos 12, Espinas 9, Ross 9, Tubid 9, Arana 8, Lutz 3, Reyes 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 94 – Quinahan 20, Chan 15, Cruz 13, Ponferada 13, Belga 9, Norwood 8, Lee 7, Ahanmisi 5, Tiu 4, Teng 0, Trollano 0.

Quarters: 17-13, 50-45, 72-68, 103-94