MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) San Miguel Beer's bid for a historic "five-peat" remains alive.
This, after the Beermen overcame the Magnolia Hotshots, 98-86, in Game 6 of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday to force a winner-take-all showdown for the All-Filipino crown.
In front of a big weekend crowd at the Araneta Coliseum, the Beermen surged to a huge lead in the second quarter, then fended off repeated rallies by the Hotshots the rest of the way to seize the crucial win and keep their season alive.
The series, now tied at 3-3, comes to an end on Wednesday's Game 7, still at the Big Dome.
"I'm happy for our players, especially 'yung mga experienced na players. Alam nila kung ano ang importance ng game na 'to, alam nila kung paano manalo ng championship," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after their win.
"I hope 'yung pride na nakuha namin the past few years, hindi mawala," added the coach.
Four players scored in double-digits for the defending champions, with June Mar Fajardo putting up 23 points and 18 rebounds, while Marcio Lassiter came up with 20 points and 7 boards. Chris Ross finished with 17 points, making 5 triples while dishing out 6 assists. Christian Standhardinger had 16 points off the bench.
San Miguel's defense set the tone of the game, as they limited Magnolia to just 12 points in the opening frame. The Beermen knocked down five three-pointers in the first period, two of which came from Ross.
The SMB bench then picked up the slack in the second quarter: buckets from Standhardinger and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser allowed the Beermen to pad their lead. Ross and Lassiter then drained back-to-back triples to give San Miguel its biggest lead, 37-16.
But Magnolia responded with a 13-0 run that trimmed the lead to single digits, 39-31, with under two minutes to go in the first half. Veteran big man Rafi Reavis was instrumental in the run, converting past Fajardo inside the paint for buckets.
It was SMB that ended the half on a strong note, however, thanks to Ross. The veteran point guard nailed two three-pointers to lift his team to a 50-36 lead at the half.
"We played good defense because of our second group. 'Yung second group, nahawa lahat sa kanila. Christian, Terrence (Romeo), Matt and Von (Pessumal), and from there, nagkaroon kami ng baon papunta sa second half," said Austria.
Magnolia outscored San Miguel, 26-18, in the third quarter, thanks to big shots from Ian Sangalang, to make the deficit more manageable heading to the payoff period, 68-62.
But the Beermen immediately quelled Magnolia's uprising in the fourth frame. A long-range bomb from Romeo sparked a stunning 14-1 run, which included easy buckets from Ross, Lassiter, and Santos. By the time the dust settled, San Miguel had regained full control, 82-63.
They went on to lead by 22 points, 93-77, off a Fajardo three-point play with 4:19 to go, before cruising to victory.
"I think with this win, the momentum is on our side," said Austria. "I hope ma-sustain namin ang panalo namin ngayong gabi."
San Miguel made 42% of its shots, but it was their 3-point shooting that spelled the biggest difference. The Beermen made 14 of 40 attempts from beyond the arc, while Magnolia made just 3 of 16 three-pointers. SMB also scored 20 points from the Hotshots' 10 turnovers, and had a whopping 31 second chance points after grabbing 22 offensive rebounds.
Jio Jalalon had 17 points and 8 dimes to lead Magnolia, while Sangalang bucked foul trouble to finish with 14, and Reavis added 13. But Mark Barroca, the hero of their win in Game 5, was limited to just 6 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.
San Miguel 98 - Fajardo 23, Lassiter 20, Ross 17, Standhardinger 16, Romeo 9, Santos 8, Cabagnot 3, Rosser 0, Pessumal 0.
Magnolia 86 - Jalalon 17, Reavis 16, Sangalang 14, Brondial 12, Lee 10, Barroca 6, Dela Rosa 5, Herndon 5, Melton 4, Simon 0, Pascual 0.
Quarter scores: 25-12, 50-36, 68-62, 98-86.
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