San Miguel Beermen walloped the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots, 111-87, in their Easter showdown for the crucial 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven championship series last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Beermen started strong and finished even stronger to make it two in a row in the series following a 92-77 victory in Game Two a week ago over at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
They will be out to move in the threshold of an all-Filipino four-peat in Game Four at the Big Dome Wednesday.
Like in the previous game, San Miguel was a dominant side in Game Three, eventually putting Magnolia away at 92-71 on a lethal 15-0 run in the fourth quarter.
Brian Heruela, Gabby Espinas and Matt Ganuelas Rosser had a big hand in their killer fourth-quarter romp.
"I think the one-week break worked on our favor. The key was that we're able to match their energy," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
"We're able to recharge, recuperate from minor injuries and focus, and our second group delivered in the fourth quarter so I let them play all the way to the last two minutes," Austria added.
"Big credit to our second group, they really stepped up and gave us a good rest," said June Mar Fajardo, himself deflecting the credit to their second group.Fajardo came through with another double-double game with 21 points and 17 rebounds despite resting the whole final quarter while Marcio Lassiter sizzled with a game-high 24 points spiked by 5-of-9 three-pointers.
Heruela stood out among the SMB shock-troopers with 11 markers while Espinas, Rosser, Von Pessumal, Louie Vigil and David Semerad combined for 22.
Magnolia coach ChitoVictolero himself acknowledged the contribution of the SMB bench in their victory.
The Hotshots were limited to three points in the first six minutes of the payoff period, and that proved to be their downfall.
Behind Fajardo, Santos, Lassiter, Ross and Alex Cabagnot, the Beermen got off to a jackrabbit start and enjoyed an early huge lead of 13 points at 29-16.
But Magnolia's guard crew got the team into the fight, tying the count at 43 on back-to-back treys by PJ Simon and Paul Lee.
The Beermen held just a one-point lead, 50-49, at the half before touching off another scorching run to reestablish a double-digit spread at 66-55 five minutes into the third period.*pba.com
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