SMB is No. 1 | Inquirer Sports

SMB is No. 1

Beermen nail Philippine Cup top playoff spot with road victory over Batang Pier in Cebu
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:03 AM January 22, 2017

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PBA IMAGES

LAPU-LAPU CITY — Arwind Santos scored seven of San Miguel Beer’s last eight points to key a 106-100 win over GlobalPort last night, sealing No. 1 ranking in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs for the Beermen before a boisterous throng at Hoops Dome here.

Playing with very little on the line, the Beermen displayed the spunk defending champions are made of, with Santos finishing off two brilliant defensive plays inside the final 1:31 of the Petron Saturday Special Game that ultimately gave San Miguel a 9-1 record no other team can match even with two weeks left in the elimination round.

GlobalPort’s drive to gain the inside track on the second twice-to-beat privilege took a huge shot with the loss, the Batang Pier’s fourth in nine outings, as it shoved them down into a tie with Barangay Ginebra, Rain or Shine, TNT KaTropa and Phoenix Petroleum in the frenzied race for No. 2.

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Crucial clash

That would make the Ginebra-Phoenix clash at 6:45 p.m. at PhilSports Arena crucial for both, with the Gin Kings trying to win three straight games for the first time this season, which could equate to the huge quarterfinal incentive.

Ginebra, though, might be forced to play the Fuel Masters without the high-flying Japeth Aguilar, who hyper-extended his right elbow after a bad fall following a breakaway dunk in the first half of a 99-90 win over Blackwater on Friday night.

The 6-foot-9 Aguilar missed practice Saturday and team trainers are doing everything to make him available for the Phoenix match.

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Another side also still in the mix for No. 2 is Alaska, which battles Mahindra in the 4:30 p.m. game.

After San Miguel, the other teams are bunched up in the standings with idle Star also moving in contention with a 4-4 record like Alaska.

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Should the Aces win, they will be clashing with Phoenix and Rain or Shine to close out their elimination round schedule in matches that will be the KO type for them as far as the race for No. 2 is concerned.

Ginebra battles NLEX on Jan. 29 at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

Santos finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds and fellow former MVP June Mar Fajardo had 19 and 15 in front of his provincemates.

Marcio Lassiter had 22 points and Chris Ross had nine assists and three steals, the last of which led to the first of those Santos baskets. Ross picked a pass by KG Canaleta intended for Stanley Pringle, which set Santos up for a basket that made it 100-95.

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Pringle went on to finish with 21 points and lead the Batang Pier, who are trying to better a franchise-best Final Four appearance here last season. Terrence Romeo scored 16 and Canaleta 14 for GlobalPort.

TAGS: 2017 Philippine Cup, Arwind Santos, Globalport Batang Pier, PBA, San Miguel Beermen

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