by Jonas Terrado
Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs San Miguel
(Series tied 3-3)
San Miguel Beer and Magnolia are set for a potential photo finish for the PBA’s most prestigious prize.
Refusing to relinquish the throne held for the past four seasons, the Beermen displayed championship poise to defeat the Hotshots, 98-86, and force their Philippine Cup title showdown to a deciding seventh game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Christian Standhardinger all scored in double figures to lead San Miguel to a convincing win that set the stage for a deciding seventh game on Wednesday at the same venue.
Fajardo had 23 points and 18 rebounds and Lassiter picked up where he left off from his 20-point showing in the Game 5 loss with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Ross scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half, hitting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in that juncture as Standhardinger turned in 16 points and five reboiunds.
Magnolia had no answers for San Miguel, which showed no signs of yielding the Philippine Cup trophy, despite trying multiple times to erase a 21-point deficit.
Coach Leo Austria praised his second unit composed that included Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Von Pessumal for providing the needed spark.
“We played good defense because of our second group, nahawa lahat sa kanila,” Austria said.
The defense allowed the Beermen to shut down the Hotshots’ most consistent performer Mark Barroca.
Barroca, who will probably lift the Finals MVP plaque should Magnolia end up victorious, was held to six points on 6-of-10 shooting, way below his numbers of 19 points in the first five games.
Also held was Ian Sangalang, who dealt with foul trouble before posting 14 points on 5-of-16 from the field.
San Miguel led 37-16 in the second quarter before going into halftime up 50-36.
Magnolia kept threatening in the third and pulled within six, 68-62, going into the fourth. But San Miguel went on a 12-1 at the start of the fourth to pull away.
The game went on smoothly much to the relief of the league after a man dressed as Spiderman disrupted the crucial stage of Game 5.
Additional security was added as promised, particularly from the police force to ensure no one would pull off a repeat of the incident.
SAN MIGUEL 98 — Fajardo 23, Lassiter 20, Ross 17, Standhardinger 16, Romeo 9, Santos 8, Cabagnot 3, Rosser 0, Pessumal 0.
MAGNOLIA 86 — Jalalon 17, Reavis 16, Sangalang 14, Brondial 12, Lee 10, Barroca 6, Dela Rosa 5, Herndon 5, Melton 4, Simon 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 25-12; 50-36; 68-62; 98-86.