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Kings, Beermen take care of foes to book semis slots
Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel Beer and Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar | PBA Images
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Star
7 p.m. – Meralco vs TNT KaTropa
MANILA, Philippines – Governors Cup titlist Barangay Ginebra and Philippine Cup champ San Miguel Beer roared and thundered past separate foes to claim the first two seats in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Tuesday night.
The Kings reigned over the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 96-85, while the Beermen blew past the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 115-96, in a pair of lopsided matches keeping the dominance of the top seeds in this playoff round.
Star and TNT KaTropa, runaway winners versus Rain or Shine and Meralco in the openers of their best-of-three quarters showdowns Monday, both go for the semis clincher tonight also at the Big Dome.
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Ginebra lived up to its billing as the No. 1 seed in its 11-point drubbing of GlobalPort marred by a flagrant infraction by Terrence Romeo on LA Tenorio with 3:28 left to play.
Ejected from the game, Romeo still engaged Tenorio and even the Ginebra crowd in a taunting duel on his way to the dugout. Both players are likely to draw sanction from the Commissioner’s Office.
The Gin King went on to breeze home to victory and advance to the best-of-five semifinals versus the winner of the TNT-Meralco matchup.
The Beermen were more dominant, allowing the Fuel Masters to be in the game only in the first few minutes of their contest, much like their 110-88 victory in their elimination-round tussle on April 7.
Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Ronald Tubid engaged a virtual shootout among themselves, combining for 14 of the Beermen’s 16 3-pointers that highlighted their thorough dismantling of Phoenix on the way to the Last Four versus the victor in the Star-ROS tiff.
“I’m happy we met the high expectation of the people and the team management. They expected us to be in the semis,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
“The players know what at stake and they want to get into the semis right away. They don’t want to play another (quarters) game,” Austria also said.
The Beermen fought like they’re in a do-or-die battle, opening a double-digit spread right in the opening quarter, sitting on a 20-point cushion at halftime and never letting up until the end.
Best Player of the Conference leading contender Alex Cabagnot rifled in six triples and churned out a sterling all-around game with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
“There were only a few games that he had a minimal output. In eight or nine games, he’s in the top three in scoring, rebounding and assists. He’s very consistent. Hopefully, he’ll be able to sustain his showing so that there would be no obstacle in his bid to win the BPC award,” said Austria of their ace guard.
Through the elims, Cabagnot paced the BPC race with an average of 34.7 statistical points a game. Right behind him was Stanley Pringle (33.4), then Japeth Aguilar (32.3), June Mar Fajardo (32.2) and Terrence Romeo (31.5).
Lassiter top scored with 26 points, including five treys while Tubid added 14 markers, counting three 3-pointers.
Chris Ross also came through with a solid all-around effort with 20 points, eight assists and six assists while June Mar Fajardo contributed with 15 markers and eight boards as Charles Rhodes deferred a bit to his local teammates, taking only 11 field goal attempts and making five for 14 points.
The Beermen dominated on all fronts as they eliminated the Fuel Masters from further contention in the tourney.
Lassiter shone on both ends, going 9-of-16 from the field on offense and hounding Matthew Wright on defense to limit the Phoenix hotshot to just nine markers on 3-of-10 clip.
Jameel McKay came up with 20 points and 13 rebounds in his farewell game in the tourney.