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SMB back in PH Cup Finals after booting out Ginebra

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By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

San Miguel’s PBA Philippine Cup domination will plod on.

The Beermen has moved on to the finals of the season-opening conference after ousting Barangay Ginebra, 100-94, in Game 5 of the best-of-seven semifinals at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City on Saturday night.

SMB rallied back from a sluggish first-half and another late run by Ginebra to seal the first finals berth with a 4-1 series win.

The Barangay went off to a quick 10-2 start only before the Beermen responded with a 10-0 rally for a 12-10 lead.

Another 8-0 run, and Ginebra fully took control of the first half, even stretching its lead to 12, 39-27, early in the second quarter.

However, SMB put up a rally for the rest of the second quarter to force a 55-all score at halftime; and eventually took the momentum in the third quarter after building its largest lead at 11, 80-69.

The Barangay still put up a fight back through a 23-7 run spanning through the fourth quarter to go up, 92-87, with 6:42 remaining.

But the Beermen reclaimed control of the game with a 13-2 run to clinch the series, ending the game on an 8-0 run and rendered the Barangay scoreless for the last 5:49 of the match.

“Gusto kong magpasalamat sa Panginoon dahil ibinalik Niya kami dito sa Finals ng All-Filipino, kung saan kami magkakaroon ng chance na i-defend yung crown,” said Coach Leo Austria.

Junemar Fajardo led SMB, which will have one week to prepare for the finals with the other semifinal series between Magnolia and NLEX knotted at 2-all, with 25 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and one block.

Marcio Lassiter added 23 points, eight rebounds, and one assist.

Matt Rosser went 6-for-8 from the field for 14 points with eight boards, three dimes, two blocks, and one steal.

Japeth Aguilar exploded with 32 points in yet another losing effort for Ginebra, even as Scottie Thompson came up with a triple-double of 16 rebounds, 16 assists, and 10 points with two steals and one block.

Box Scores:

San Miguel 100-Fajardo 25, Lassiter 23, Rosser 14, Cabagnot 12, Santos 11, Ross 5, Espinas 5, De Ocampo 4, Pessumal 1

Ginebra 94-J. Aguilar 32, Mercado 14, Ferrer 10, Thompson 10, Devance 9, Tenorio 8, R. Aguilar 7, Cruz 4, Caguioa 2, Caperal 0

Quarter scores: 25-34, 55-55, 83-76, 100-94 (PNA)