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Beermen off to finals

SMB finishes off Alaska; Ginebra eyes duel vs sister team
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:05 AM July 23, 2018

From a 0-3 start to barely making it to the playoffs, San Miguel Beer is back in a place most everyone expected it to be at.

Keeping their composure all night, the Beermen withstood the Alaska Aces, 104-99, on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum to close out their Final Four series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

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San Miguel will meet either sister team Barangay Ginebra or Rain Shine as it eyes a repeat and the second jewel of a possible Grand Slam.

June Mar Fajardo struck hardest in the third period where the Beermen took control before their frontcourt delivered at the crunch to close out the best-of-five series, 3-1.

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“We didn’t want a Game 5,” Fajardo said, admitting that they would have been the more fatigued team had the series dragged on to a winner-take-all match.

Instead, the Beermen will have at least three days of rest as the Gin Kings try to wrap up their semifinals against the Elasto Painters on Monday at 7 p.m., also at the Big Dome.

Fajardo finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds, 14 of his output coming in the third, even as Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot hit the telling shots in the stretch to cushion a whirlwind Alaska finish that made the score close.

Should the Kings defeat the Painters in Game 4, the best-of-seven title series will start Wednesday.

San Miguel picked up the pace at the right time in the conference after a slow start, signing the Renaldo Balkman midstream to qualify sixth for the playoffs and eventually maintain its mastery of Alaska.

Balkman finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds, Cabagnot made 18 that went with nine assists and Ross had 17 points.

Winning formula

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Coach Tim Cone knows what it will take for his Gin Kings to close out the Painters.

“We need more poise and little bit more fight in us,” Cone said after Saturday’s 75-72 Game 3 win which saw his wards almost lose a 23-point halftime as they were held to just 39 points in the last two periods.

The Elasto Painters emerged from the halftime break tough-as-nails on both ends and almost completed a magnificent rally—exactly what coach Caloy Garcia wants in order to force a Game 5.

Ateneo 4th in Jones Cup

In the 2018 William Jones Cup at Xinzhuang Gymnasium in Taiwan, Iran relegated Philippine representative Ateneo to fourth place with a 70-63 victory on Sunday.

Coming off a 77-76 win over Chinese Taipei-A the day before when Matt Nieto sank a triple in the final 3.1 seconds, the Blue Eagles took a 39-31 lead at halftime.

But the Iranians, led by Vahid Dalirzahan and Rasoul Mozafarivanani, outscored the Filipinos in the third quarter, 23-11, and never looked back.
The Blue Eagles ended the tournament at 5-3, winning four of their last five games.

Iran and 3D Global Sports of Canada tied at 7-1 but 3D took the title because of a better quotient.

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TAGS: Alaska Aces, Barangay Ginebra Kings, PBA Commissioner’s Cup, San Miguel Beer
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