The San Miguel Beermen overcame a tough stand by the depleted TNT KaTropa to prevail in their Game Seven semifinal encounter, 96-83, and move on to the Oppo PBA Philippine Cup finals on Monday at Mall of Asia Arena.
June Mar Fajardo collected 22 points and 19 boards while Arwind Santos piled up 22 points and 13 boards to spearhead the Beermen which are seeking their third straight Philippine Cup crown.
Chris Ross added 18 points, six boards and 10 assists, Alex Cabagnot had 14 points and seven dimes, and Marcio Lassiter chipped in 12 points, six rebounds and four assists as San Miguel’s prolific starters delivered again.
TNT’s biggest star, Jayson Castro, didn’t suit up in the game due to a hamstring injury. But KaTropa didn’t go down without a fight, engaging the defending champions in a tough battle in the first half.
San Miguel started hot, zooming to an 18-7 lead. But Kelly Williams and Larry Fonacier stepped up, leading TNT to come close to within three, 22-19, after the opening frame.
KaTropa continued to keep the game close, trailing by just two points at the break, 41-39.
However, it was a different story in the second half. The Beermen suddenly pulled away after launching a 15-4 run to grab a 56-43 lead.
Ten unanswered points by San Miguel then made it a 70-51 affair.
TNT trimmed the deficit to as little as nine points in the fourth quarter, but just didn’t have enough weapons to completely stifle San Miguel.
The Beermen will return to action on Friday for Game One of the championship round where they will take on the winner of the Star-Ginebra semifinals series which will be decided in a Game Seven on Tuesday.