By DENNIS PRINCIPE
The San Miguel Beermen are now a win away from keeping their Philippine Cup crown and bring home the coveted Perpetual trophy.
Last night at the Araneta Coliseum, the defending champion Beermen dispatched the Gin Kings, 94-85 in front of 17,146 paying public to hold a commanding 3-1 series lead in their Best-of-Seven title showdown.
Four San Miguel starters scored in double figures with Marcio Lassiter and JuneMar Fajardo each scoring 20 points. Fajardo, who earlier won his fifth Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award, also grabbed 13 boards.
Joe Devance paced Ginebra with 22 points.
The Beermen torched the Gin Kings from beyond the arc where they went 15-of-35 (42%) compared to Ginebra’s measly 5-of-22 (22%).
The Perpetual Trophy, also called the Jun Bernardino trophy, permanently goes to a team that scores three straight Philippine Cup title conquests.
The Beermen, titleholders of the last two All-Filipino conferences, will try to seal the deal in tomorrow’s Game 5 set at the Big Dome.
Meantime, Brgy. Ginebra’s sophomore sensation Earl Scottie Thompson is sure to become one of the league’s superstars only if he remains under coach Tim Cone.
No less than one of Cone’s protégés, current Star Hotshots assistant coach and point guard par excellence Johnny Abarrientos said Thompson is in great hands in having the league’s most successful coach as his hardcourt guru.
“Bago ako pumasok sa PBA I thought ready na ako. Pero through coach Tim, I realized mayroon pa akong mga kulang which he pointed out. Kung makikinig lang siya kay coach Tim, mas lalong nakakatakot kalaban ang Ginebra,” said Abarrientos. “Kung ma-trade yan or mahiwalay kay Coach Tim, I don’t think magbo-blossom si Scottie kasi iba talaga pag mag-handle si coach ng point guards.”
The 23-year-old Thompson continues to make heads turn not only because of his skills as one of Ginebra’s playmakers but also due to his stunning ability to outrebound the league’s big men.
In the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup, the Davao del Norte born Thompson happens to be Ginebra’s top rebounder with an average of 9.14 rebounds per game, slightly better than high-flying 6-foot-9 teammate Japeth Aguilar (9.16rpg).
This conference alone, Thompson has registered double-digit rebounding in half of their 20-plus games, one of them a career best 17 rebounds during their 86-79 win over Star Hotshots last December 25 at the Philippine Arena.
“Mayroon siyang nose for the ball. Yun din madalas sinasabi sa akin ni coach Tim. Naaalala niya daw ako everytime naglalaro si Scottie,” said Abarrientos. “It also helps na malakas na siya tumalon tapos may timing pa.”
Abarrientos however cautions the 6-foot-1 Thompson not to overdo things and wait for his time to come.
“May LA (Tenorio) sila na sobrang talino sa laro. Just do those dirty works na madalas niyang ginagawa like tapping the ball to his teammates. Dun mo makikita na team player si Scottie,” added Abarrientos “Learn from them. Kay Jayjay (Helterbrand) and Sol (Mercado), yung mga veterans and he will never go wrong.”
Ginebra was playing San Miguel Beer as of presstime in Game 3 yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Down 1-2, the crowd favorites are hoping to tie the series of their ongoing PBA Philippine Cup title showdown.
SAN MIGUEL 94 – Lassiter 20, Fajardo 20, Ross 17, Cabagnot 13, Santos 8, Tubid 8, de Ocampo 5, Espinas 3, Heruela 0,
GINEBRA 85 – Devance 22, Aguilar 12, Tenorio 12, Ellis 10, Thompson 7, Mercado 6, Ferrer 6, Marcelo 4, Caguioa 3, Mariano 2, Cruz 1, Taha 0.
Quarterscores: 30-18, 55-34, 76-63, 94-85
Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. – San Miguel vs Ginebra
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