by Jonas Terrado
San Miguel Beer displayed its mean streak in a timely manner and crushed TNT KaTropa, 96-86, in the deciding third game of their quarterfinal series to advance to the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
June Mar Fajardo imposed his will yet again to score 32 points on a perfect 11-of-11 shooting with 14 rebounds as the Beermen earned the right to face top seed Phoenix Pulse in a best-of-seven affair.
Christian Standhardinger was also instrumental in the victory by producing 17 points on 8-of-9 from the field and Terrence Romeo scored 11 as the defending four-time champions earned the right to face top seed Phoenix Pulse in a best-of-seven affair.
The Beermen progressed into the semis after weathering the KaTropa’s relentless defending for the first two games.
Fajardo had 10 points in the first quarter that saw San Miguel take a 25-10 lead and never looked back.
But coach Leo Austria lauded his team for also displaying its own defensive intensity with Fajardo, Arwind Santos and Chris Ross in charge.
“We’ve been criticized before na wala kaming defense but I think you that our team can also play defense,” said Austria.
TNT never showed any significant threat the rest of the way as it offense plunked while getting frustrated to a San Miguel side that seemed cool with the physical nature of the series.
Roger Pogoy had 16 points but Jayson Castro shot 3-of-10 for 10 points and Troy Rosario went 4-of-10 to also end up with 10 points.
The KaTropa absorbed their sixth consecutive playoff defeat against the Beermen.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia disputed the remaining semis berth at presstime for the right to meet Rain or Shine which is also a best-of-seven duel.
The semis begins on Friday at the Big Dome with the first semis match to be determined after the Ginebra-Magnolia tussle.
Earlier, the league held a moment of silence in honor of referee Guillermo “Emy” Tangkion, who passed away after collapsing during a workout last Tuesday at the nearby JCSGO Gym.