By JONAS TERRADO
Game Sunday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. – Magnolia vs NLEX
Defending champion San Miguel rode on Arwind Santos’ hot shooting and beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel convincingly, 102-90, last night to gain a headstart in their best-of-seven semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Santos finished with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting as the Beermen took command after allowing Ginebra to score the game’s first four points on the way to a one-sided win that showcased their status as the team favored to capture a fourth consecutive crown in the all-Filipino tournament.
Von Pessumal came off the bench to score 18 points, most of which came from three-point country and San Miguel maintaining a double-digit lead in the payoff period. Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot scored 17 and 15 points, respectively.
June Mar Fajardo had nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 31 minutes, his rare off-night hardly noticed after Santos set the tone with 10 points in the first quarter.
San Miguel goes for a 2-0 lead Sunday night, also at the Big Dome, but coach Leo Austria felt fatigue caught up with Ginebra after playing its fourth game in a week including a sweep of Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals.
“We can’t rest our laurels because we know Ginebra’s playing really well before this game,” said Austria, whose Beermen also took advantage in the another absence of Ginebra’s 7-foot center Greg Slaughter.
Slaughter missed his fourth consecutive game due to an ankle injury, but is expected to appear sometime during the series – possibly in Game 2 with Ginebra looking to avoid a 0-2 hole.
Meanwhile, the other best-of-seven semifinal series between the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and NLEX Road Warriors begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Big Dome with attention centering on the individual matchup between Paul Lee and Kiefer Ravena.
SAN MIGUEL 102 – Santos 23, Pessumal 18, Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 15, Fajardo 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Ross 6, Heruela 4, Espinas 2, Semerad 0, De Ocampo 0, Mamaril 0, Vigil 0.
GINEBRA 90 – Mercado 17, Aguilar J. 17, Thompson 17, Mariano 12, Caperal 8, Tenorio 6, Ferrer 5, Cruz 4, Devance 4, Manuel 0, Aguilar R. 0, Taha 0.
Quarters: 26-20; 50-41; 78-63; 102-90.