San Miguel ousts Rain or Shine, sets up Finals rematch with Alaska
San Miguel Beer survived a frantic fourth-quarter fightback by Rain or Shine, 117-110, Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum to setup a rematch with top seed Alaska in the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
June Mar Fajardo, who is poised to win his second straight MVP award, scored 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds for the Beermen.
“I think the players deserved this hard-earned victory. They want to be in the championship and from the very start we knew this will be a tough game for us,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria, whose team saw its 19-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter dwindle to just five with still six minutes left.
San Miguel entered the final 12 minutes ahead, 93-74. But after losing Game 2 despite taking a 20-point lead in the third quarter, Austria knew the Beermen will be in for a fight.
Austria was right, but unlike in Game 2 where they cracked in the face of the Elasto Painters’ comeback, the Beermen weathered the storm this time around.
Every time Rain or Shine scored, San Miguel countered.
Gabe Norwood’s two free throws got Rain or Shine to within five, 100-95, with half a quarter to go before San Miguel answered with back-to-back baskets by Fajardo and Reid in the shaded area.
Chris Tiu hit a right corner triple that cut the Beermen’s lead to six but Fajardo again scored underneath with a still slightly-limping Beau Belga on him to cushion his team’s advantage.
And when the Painters came to their closest, 108-104 on Jeff Chan’s 3-pointer in transition with still 3:36 remaining, the Beermen put the game out of reach with a 7-2 spurt in the next two and a half minutes capped by a Reid followup with 1:08 to go.
Rain or Shine import Wendell McKines was held to only 25 points after averaging 42 points in the first three games of the semifinals including a franchise-record 53 points in Game 2.
The best-of-seven duel for the championship begins Friday night. The Beermen outlasted the Aces in seven games two conferences ago to win the Philippine Cup crown. CFC