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PBA: San Miguel puts away NLEX

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Beermen insemis vs Acesor Gin Kings

San Miguel Beer now sits back and waits.

The Beermen dug deep into their arsenal to survive a gritty NLEX side and score a 114-110 victory in their quarterfinal playoff in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The defending champions, who advanced to the best-of-5 semifinals, blew an early 17-point lead before import Elijah Millsap stepped up in the fourth quarter where he scored 11 of his team high 39 points to help his team sidestep a do-or-die.

The younger brother of former NBA All-Star Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks likewise collared 11 rebounds, dished out three assists and had a steal in nearly 46 minutes of action.

SMB drew solid performances from its locals as reigning two-time MVP June Mar Fajardo finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter chipped in 14 points apiece and Arwind Santos 11 and seven boards.

The win moved the Beermen to the semifinal series where they will battle the winner of the quarterfinal match between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Alaska.

San Miguel mentor Leo Austria credited his men for the effort they showed in a game he considered a tough one as NLEX nearly forced a sudden death when it erased a 63-46 deficit late in the second period.

“I know from the start that it’ll not be an easy game, we have a history against NLEX… since last season it’s always a close game,” said Austria, whose team won, 94-93, against NLEX during the elimination round on a game-winning triple from Lassiter.

“It’s the same. We led but they came back, and even got the lead. We have that tendency to relax. This is a good lesson for us,” added Austria, whose team shot 53 percent (38-of-72) from the field.

The Road Warriors even briefly took a 91-90 lead with 8:22 left, but Millsap buried a 3 made it 93-91 lead with 7:57 left.

The last deadlock was when Asi Taulava converted a jumphot, 100-all. But a 10-2 run by San Miguel capped by Lassiter’s fourth triple in the game put the Beermen up 110-102, a little over a minute to go.

SAN MIGUEL 114 – Millsap 39, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 14, Cabagnot 14, Santos 11, Espinas 7, Tubid 6, Ross 4, De Ocampo 2.

NLEX 110 – Walker 45, Villanueva J. 17, Lanete 13, Taulava 13, Anthony 11, Villanueva E. 6, Khobuntin 3, Alas 2, Baracael 0, Monfort 0.

Quarters: 24-23, 63-48, 86-82, 114-110.