San Miguel Beer assured itself of a quarterfinals berth while staying within distance of the race for the other twice-to-beat advantage after rolling past Phoenix Super LPG, 110-80, Friday, Sept. 17 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross led the third quarter rampage that saw the Beermen buck the loss of Terrence Romeo to an injured right foot and produce the most lopsided game since the elimination round resumed last Sept. 1.
Perez had nine of his conference-high 24 points in that quarter, Fajardo finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Ross produced nine points, seven rebounds and eight assists as SMB improved to 6-3, becoming the fifth team to reach the quarters.
The Beermen also moved a half-game over the Meralco Bolts and the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots in the race for the other twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.
Meralco is currently second at 6-2, slightly ahead of Magnolia which has a 7-3 record.
SMB’s victory came back before its big clash with Magnolia on Sunday, Sept. 19, with the loser likely to stay out of contention for the quarterfinal bonus and play a best-of-three series instead.
“This win (against Phoenix) could lead us to the top two, but it will depend on the result of the other games,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “But, di naman ako nananalangin na matalo kung sino team, ganyan, basta iniisip namin that we have to do our best to get into the right place.
“At least, siguro kung mananalo pa kami ng next two games, nandun kami sa best-of-three. And kung papalain kami, you’ll never know, baka magkaroon kami ng chance (sa twice-to-beat),” he added.
Mo Tautuaa had 19 points and six rebounds and Arwind Santos added 16 points and seven rebounds to also make key contributions for the Beermen.
Romeo played just 10 minutes and scored three points before the injury forced him to watch the whole second half from the bench.
Phoenix ended its elimination round assignment with a 4-7 record, with a very slim chance of making the top eight after seeing a 55-47 halftime deficit balloon to a high of 37.
Jason Perkins finished with 18 points for the Fuel Masters, who were two days removed from a heartbreaking 94-87 loss to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
SAN MIGUEL 110 — Perez 24, Tautuaa 19, Fajardo 18, Santos 16, Ross 9, Lassiter 8, Zamar 5, Pessumal 5, Romeo 3, Sena 3, Gotladera 0, Comboy 0, Gamalinda 0.
PHOENIX 80 — Perkins 18, Banchero 13, Muyang 12, Garcia 11, Wright 10, Manuel 8, Chua 6, Jazul 2, Calisaan 0, Melecio 0, Rios 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 24-21, 55-47, 85-59, 110-80.