No messing around | Inquirer Sports

No messing around

Beermen, Kings take quick route to semis clash
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 02:46 AM September 24, 2016

BIG MEN June Mar Fajardo (left) of San Miguel Beer and Asi Taulava of NLEX battle for the rebound during their quarterfinal battle yesterday.  Sherwin Vardeleon

BIG MEN June Mar Fajardo (left) of San Miguel Beer and Asi Taulava of NLEX battle for the rebound during their quarterfinal battle yesterday. Sherwin Vardeleon

LEO AUSTRIA would have preferred the easier route but going into the Final Four of the PBA Governors’ Cup after being dragged into a cliffhanger also has its benefits.

“I wanted us to go smooth sailing, if I had my way,” Austria told the Inquirer last night, minutes after steering No. 2 San Miguel Beer to a 114-110 nipping of NLEX to eliminate the Road Warriors after just one game of their quarterfinal matchup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“But playing such a hard game also showed me that they (Beermen) are ready [for the semifinals],” Austria, seeking to win a second title this season, added. “We (coaching staff) can also address some of our weaknesses [in getting ready] for the semifinals.”

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The Beermen rallied from an early eight-point deficit to lead by 17 near halftime, only to lose focus and trail again before fending off the seventh-ranked Road Warriors in the stretch and seal a place in the next round against sister team Barangay Ginebra, which also went through hell before clipping Alaska, 109-104, in the nightcap.

“I knew from the start that this [game] would not be easy. We have a history with NLEX dating back to last season,” Austria said.

San Miguel barely beat NLEX in the eliminations, needing a Marcio Lassiter triple in the waning seconds for a 94-93 win.

Going into the Final Four, Austria stressed the importance of needing to play defense, especially against the Gin Kings.

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Ginebra opened up a 26-point lead halfway through the third but needed a big triple from Justin Brownlee with 9.6 seconds left to turn back the Aces.

Elijap Millsap led the Beermen with 39 points that went with 11 rebounds, with hot MVP favorite June Mar Fajardo chipping in 17, 13 boards and five assists.

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First Game

SAN MIGUEL 114—Millsap 39, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 14, Cabagnot 14, Santos 11, Espinas 7, Tubid 6, Ross 4, De Ocampo 2.
NLEX 110—Walker 45, Villanueva J. 17, Lanete 13, Taulava 13, Anthony 11, Villanueva E. 6, Khobuntin 3, Alas 2, Baracael 0, Monfort 0.
Quarters: 24-23, 63-48, 86-82, 114-110

Second Game

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GINEBRA 109—Tenorio 32, Brownlee 29, Mercado 14, Aguilar 12, Marcelo 7, Devance 6, Caguioa 4, Thompson 3, Cruz 2, Mariano 0, Helterbrand 0.
ALASKA 104—Henton 27, Abueva 17, Jazul 13, Hontiveros 12, Manuel 10, Casio 9, Thoss 9, Banchero 5, Racal 2, Baclao 0, Dela Rosa 0, Exciminiano 0.
Quarters: 23-23, 53-41, 86-66, 109-104

TAGS: Basketball, Leo Austria, NLEX, PBA Governors' Cup, San Miguel Beer

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