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PBA: SMB gains semis

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Star vs Rain or Shine
7 p.m. – Meralco vs TNT KaTropa

Charles Rhodes could have just let JC Intal get a breakaway dunk with the San Miguel Beermen holding a comfortable lead with three minutes left in the game.

But instead, Rhodes typified his team’s dominant performance with an electrifying chasedown block on Intal in the Beermen’s 115-96 win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters last night that made them the first team to reach the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Marcio Lassiter fired a game-high 26 points while Alex Cabagnot added 20 points a day after he emerged as the leader of the Best Player of the Conference race as twice-to-beat San Miguel encountered little trouble in the game held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Aside from his block on Intal, Rhodes posted 14 points and 11 rebounds to give the Beermen their sixth straight semifinal appearance and seventh in eight conferences under coach Leo Austria.

“With this win, we’re so happy that we meet the expectations. We are the first team to be in the semifinals,” said Austria. “I have to commend the players. They know what is at stake in this game.”

“They want to get to the semifinals. We don’t want to have another game. I hope the performance of the players continue to improve because the semifinals is a different ballgame,” Austria added.

San Miguel, which earned a twice-to-beat advantage after finishing second in the eliminations, advanced to the best-of-five semis to meet either the No. 3 Star Hotshots or the sixth-ranked defending champion Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

The Hotshots need one more win to forge a battle with the Beermen after opening the best-of-three quarters with the Elasto Painters with a comprehensive 118-82 win last Monday.

Chris Ross flirted at a triple-double before finishing with 11 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals, June Mar Fajardo contributed 15 points while Ronald Tubid came off the bench to score 14 points.

It was Tubid who ignited the team’s second quarter run where he scattered 11 points as San Miguel outscored Phoenix, 29-16, that turned a 28-21 lead to a comfortable 57-37 halftime advantage.

SMB had its largest lead in that big second quarter blitzkrieg as a three-point basket by Tubid gave them a 28-point spread, 51-23.

Import Jameel McKay led the Fuel Masters with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while guard RJ Jazul and Intal contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively.