Fajardo wreaks havoc as San Miguel ousts TNT, advances to semis
TNT had no answers for June Mar Fajardo as the four-peat-seeking San Miguel Beer progressed to the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals with a 106-93 thumping Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The four-time PBA Most Valuable Player unleashed 35 points on an ultra-efficient 15-of-19 shooting from the field, while also gathering 11 rebounds and two blocks to aid the twice-to-beat Beermen in ousting the KaTropa.
The Beermen had an early lead, 42-30, with a big first half, but TNT managed to get back into the game and even took a 70-67 lead with 3:12 left in the third quarter before the defending champions pulled away for good.
Other Beermen joined the scoring party as Marcio Lassiter fired 20 points, five boards, two assists, and two steals, while Chris Ross contributed 13 points, seven dimes, three rebounds, and three steals.
Arwind Santos finished with 15 markers, seven boards, four assists, four steals, and four blocks before being ejected for his second technical foul with 1:20 to play after his scuffle with TNT guard Jericho Cruz.
“This is the hardest game we ever had against TNT because they’ve been through two knockout games and they blew them all out. I was worried, but I have to be credit to the boys, especially June Mar Fajardo,” said an emotional coach Leo Austria, who had his attentions divided after his wife underwent kidney transplant earlier in the day. “He was so focused in this game. We followed our game plan to the letter.”
San Miguel now awaits its date in the best-of-seven semifinals against the victor of the Ginebra-Rain or Shine quarterfinals series.
The Beermen broke away from a 79-all deadlock after Brian Heruela and a pair of Santos treys went down to establish an 88-83 lead.
Though Kelly Williams and Anthony Semerad tried to bring TNT within two, 90-88, with 4:10 left, Santos was there again to hit a tough fadeaway before Fajardo followed it up with two more buckets, the last of which an uncontested jumper over Williams with 2:03 on the clock that virtually put the game out of reach.
Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario led eight-seed TNT with 19 points apiece as the KaTropa made an early exit in the all-Filipino conference.
SAN MIGUEL 106 — Fajardo 35, Lassiter 20, Santos 15, Ross 13, Cabagnot 8, Heruela 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, De Ocampo 3, Pessumal 2, Espinas 1.
TNT 93 — Castro 19, Rosario 19, Pogoy 17, Semerad 16, Williams 15, Cruz 3, Garcia 2, Torres 2, Carey 0, Paredes 0, Reyes 0, Tautuaa 0.
Quarters: 31-23, 52-44, 77-72, 106-93.
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