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PBA: Fajardo lifts Beermen past Kia

Games Today
(Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. – Blackwater vs GlobalPort
6:45 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Star

San Miguel almost fell victim to the upset bid of winless Kia yesterday but found ways to come away victorious, 118-112, and secure a quarterfinals berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Beermen rode on June Mar Fajardo’s dominance in the fourth quarter to survive the Picanto after being down 10 points late in the third and become the fifth team to secure a quarters berth in the season-ending conference.

Fajardo finished with 41 points – two shy of tying his career-high – while adding 16 rebounds as San Miguel forged a tie with TNT KaTropa for fourth place at 6-3.

Arwind Santos came off the bench to score 15 points, including a three-pointer that put San Miguel ahead 112-106 with 1:34 left, making it more difficult for Kia to catch up.

Import Geron Johnson scored 42 points for Kia but failed to sustain its form after a strong third quarter allowed the Picanto to take several 10-point leads, the last at 80-70 on Nico Elorde’s layup with 1:44 left in the period.

Meanwhile, the PBA returns to the Ynares Center in Antipolo City today for a pair of crucial games.

Blackwater looks to complete the quarterfinal cast with a victory over skidding GlobalPort in the 4:30 p.m.
curtainraiser while Kristofer Acox makes his debut for Star, which plays TNT KaTropa at 6:45 p.m. in a battle of two teams vying for spots in the top four.

TNT has won five of its last six games, including Wednesday’s 112-107 triumph over NLEX in a result that came after trading veteran mainstay Ranidel de Ocampo to Meralco.

Despite the recent form, KaTropa coach Nash Racela is still finding something from his team, saying: “The earlier we turn the corner, the better chance that we will have especially going to the playoffs.”

Star snapped a three-game losing skid Friday with a 109-86 rout of GlobalPort at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with Malcolm Hill firing 32 points in his final game before being replaced by Acox.

Acox, a 23-year-old from Iceland, hopes to be the right mix for Star, which is having a seesaw campaign with Cinmeon Bowers and Hill as imports.

Allein Maliksi plays for the first time for Blackwater after last week’s trade with Star, hoping to help his new team clinch a quarters berth.

Blackwater is in eighth place at 4-5, one-game above GlobalPort (3-6) and 1 1/2-game ahead of Alaska (3-7).

SAN MIGUEL 118 – Fajardo 41, Watson 16, Lassiter 16, Santos 15, Ross 15, Cabagnot 11, Tubid 2, Espinas 2, Heruela 0, Pessumal 0, Rosser 0.

KIA 112 – Johnson 42, Yee 18, Corpuz 15, Paniamogan 14, Celda 9, Elorde 7, Salva 3, Camson 2, Ballesteros 2, Jaime 0, Deutchman 0.

Quarters: 25-25; 45-50; 78-84; 118-112.