by Jonas Terrado
June Mar Fajardo got plenty of support this time as defending four-time champion San Miguel Beer got back at Magnolia, 108-101, to tie the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum at 1-1.
Chris Ross, Arwind Santos, Terrence Romeo, and Christian Standhardinger bounced back from anemic performances in Game 1 as the Beermen broke away in the second quarter before building a big lead in the second half to force a split of the first two games.
Ross had 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists while putting a stingy defensive effort on Magnolia’s Paul Lee that prompted him to give choice words at the press for being snubbed of a third straight Defensive Player of the Year.
The PBA Press Corps had earlier given the award to NLEX’s Poy Erram despite his non-inclusion in the league’s All-Defensive Team.
Romeo came through with 13 points despite a 3-of-9 clip but his performance was overshadowed by his ejection with 6:23 left in the fourth for two technical fouls and the Beermen comfortably ahead, 96-91.
Romeo threw a strong chest pass at referee Peter Balao after being fouled by Mark Barroca in protest of an earlier call, leading to a first technical.
The SMB guard kept complaining at the officials, forcing Balao to call another technical while Team Governor Robert Non, Santos, and Alex Cabagnot pacified Romeo.
Standhardinger scored most of his 13 points in the second half when the Beermen turned a 51-41 halftime lead into two 20-point leads in the fourth period.
All put big numbers after struggling in Wednesday’s 99-94 loss, leaving Fajardo to do the heavy lifting during a failed comeback try in the final six minutes.
Fajardo produced 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Beermen, who will seek a 2-1 lead in Sunday’s fourth game at the Big Dome.
Marcio Lassiter struggled anew but was able to finish with 15 points despite going 4-of-13.
SAN MIGUEL 108 – Fajardo 16, Cabagnot 16, Ross 15, Lassiter 15, Santos 13, Romeo 13, Standhardinger 13, Pessumal 5, Rosser 2, Nabong 0, Zamar 0.
MAGNOLIA 101 – Sangalang 18, Jalalon 15, Barroca 12, Pascual 11, Lee 10, Melton 9, Simon 6, Ramos 6, Herndon 5, Dela Rosa 4, Reavis 2, Calisaan 2, Brondial 1.
Quarterscores: 23-22, 51-41, 83-66, 108-101.