The San Miguel Beermen came out like a monster of a ball club as labeled by the Ginebra coach in his pre-series talks, putting up a dominant performance in the opener of their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four matchup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Beermen imposed themselves on the Gin Kings with their superior firepower and pulled off a convincing 102-90 win for the decisive head start in their best-of-seven semi-final showdown.
Surely not helping the Kings' cause was coach Tim Cone's decision to continue to rest Greg Slaughter.
The Kings actually did a good job on June Fajardo, but the Beermen, as a team, dished out a performance that spoke well of their bid for a shot at a "four-peat" in the all-Filipino tourney.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria, however, still won't take Ginebra for granted, especially with the expected return of Slaughter in their next game.
"We can't rest on our laurels. We know Ginebra was playing well before this game. Maybe they are tired since this is their fourth game in eight days," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
Game Two is at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow also at the Big Dome.
Arwind Santos, second behind Fajardo in the stats race for the Best Player of the Conference honors, outclassed all the defenders thrown at him, coming through with a game-high 23 points that went with a team-high eight rebounds.
With Ginebra's defense focused on him, Fajardo came up with only nine markers and seven boards, but he still good words from his coach.
"They were sagging on June Mar, and June Mar helped his teammates as a facilitator," said Austria.
Von Pessumal had his breakout game as a San Miguel player, firing away 18 points with 4-of-5 three-pointers while Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot churned out their usual numbers, combining for 32 points.
So dominant were the Beermen they opened a 19-point spread, 64-45, on a 14-4 start in the second half and kept a double-digit spread all the way to the finish.
With Santos and Cabagnot leading the way, the Beermen seized control earlier and enjoyed the lead most of the first half.
The Beermen sat on a 50-41 cushion at the half.*pba.com
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