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Can Cone stop SMB’s juggernaut?

San Miguel's Chris Ross gestures after his 3-point shot during the PBA Commissioner's Cup finals game 3 against Ginebra at Smart Araneta Coliseum, August 1, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

San Miguel’s Chris Ross gestures after his 3-point shot during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals game 3 against Ginebra at Smart Araneta Coliseum, August 1, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

By Jonas Terrado

Game Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs San Miguel
(San Miguel leads series 2-1)

The possibility of another lopsided result is no longer the burning question that lies ahead tonight when defending champion San Miguel Beer goes for a commanding 3-1 lead over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 4 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Back-to-back wins has enabled San Miguel to seize control of the best-of-seven series, not only because of import Renaldo Balkman’s consistent play but also due to heavy production from its local players, something that is lacking on the part of Ginebra.

Such trend may allow San Miguel to put a stranglehold on the series in the 7 p.m. match that will come after the PBA announces the winner of the Best Player of the Conference and Best Import of the midseason tournament.

Beermen center June Mar Fajardo is favored to capture a seventh BPC plum while Balkman and Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee are in a tight race for the Best Import honors.

Fajardo is one of many San Miguel players who have stepped up after absorbing a 127-99 loss in Game 1. The gentle giant is averaging 20.0 points and 11.7 rebounds in the Finals.

COMING OUT PARTY

Christian Standhardinger has turned the series into his coming out party with 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals while San Miguel’s other main stars are also stepping up, namely Alex Cabagnot (15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 3.0 steals), Chris Ross (9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.0 steals), Marcio Lassiter (12.7 points, 5.3 assists) and Arwind Santos (11.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 assists).

Cabagnot and Ross provided game-turning moments in the series, with Cabagnot knocked down three triples in the second quarter that allowed SMB to break free and produce a 134-109 win in Sunday’s Game 2.

Ross on Wednesday bucked a nasty cut on his forehead to likewise drain three triples as the Beermen turned a seesaw contest into the biggest rout of the series, 132-94.

“I hope this blowout game for us could serve as a morale-booster,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “This is just one win, and there’s a long way to go. We need another two wins to defend this title.”

While Austria heaped praises for his team’s sublime performance, Ginebra coach Tim Cone could only express his shame with the Kings’ stunning downturn after drawing first blood.

CONE IS EMBARRASSED

“SMB tore our hearts and demoralized us,” said Cone. “We were simply embarrassed, I was embarrassed.”

While Brownlee has posted a series-best 34.3 points on 75-percent shooting in perhaps solidifying his case for a first-ever Best Import, most of the key locals have been a disappointment.

LA Tenorio is posting 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists while committing 3.0 turnovers per contest, Greg Slaughter has 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, Japeth Aguilar 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds, Scottie Thompson with 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists and Jeff Chan 3.7 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

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