PBA: CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo power San Miguel past Meralco for 2-1 semis edge
MANILA, Philippines—San Miguel Beer got another strong start from CJ Perez before going down low to June Mar Fajardo to take down Meralco, 96-91, for a 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Perez scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the opening period before Fajardo took advantage of the fouls he drew against the rugged Bolts defense in the second half that paved the way for the Beermen to wrest back the advantage in the best-of-seven affair.
Fajardo had 21 points on 11-of-16 free throws and grabbed 16 rebounds for SMB.
Jericho Cruz (15 points), Vic Manuel (11 points and seven rebounds) and Mo Tautuaa (eight points) were also instrumental in the Beermen’s triumph despite attempts by the Bolts to erase a 10-point fourth quarter deficit.
Game 4 is on Wednesday at the same venue with San Miguel going for a commanding 3-1 lead.
Chris Newsome scored 16 points but was 6-of-18 from the field in 36 minutes for Meralco.
Trailing 83-73, Meralco was able to narrow the gap to four at 88-84 on two Aaron Black freebies with 2:00 to go.
But Fajardo corralled the offensive glass after Cruz’s missed three-pointer before converting a putback, time down to 1:35 remaining, to make it a six-point margin in favor of SMB.
SAN MIGUEL 96 — Perez 26, Fajardo 21, Cruz 15, Manuel 11, Ross 8, Tautuaa 8, Brondial 4, Lassiter 3, Enciso 0, Herndon 0.
MERALCO 91 — Newsome 16, Maliksi 15, Black 15, Hodge 12, Jose 9, Banchero 8, Quinto 4, Almazan 4, Pasaol 2, Baclao 2.
Quarters: 25-24, 46-42, 71-66, 96-91.
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