MANILA- The San Miguel Beermen pulled away late for a 98-84 triumph over the second-seeded NorthPort Batang Pier in their quarterfinal showdown in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen clamped down defensively in the final six minutes of the contest, wherein they held the Batang Pier without a single field goal -- until Lervin Flores threw down a dunk in the final second, when the game was already decided.
With the result, the seventh-seeded Beermen forced a knockout game for a spot in the semifinal on Wednesday.
"It's a good game for us. We're able to get this win and the chance to redeem ourselves from our loss in the eliminations," said Austria, whose team finished with just a 5-6 win-loss record.
"Tonight, I'm so happy with the team because they understand our situation right now. We're not comfortable in this position, but they gave us a chance to win," he added.
The Beermen were in control late in the third quarter, 71-54, off a Marcio Lassiter three-pointer when Paolo Taha and Robert Bolick sparked NorthPort's comeback. They conspired in an 11-2 run that put the Batang Pier within striking distance, 73-65, heading into the payoff period.
San Miguel's lead would disappear almost completely in the fourth quarter thanks to Bolick and Prince Ibeh. The import threw down back-to-back slam dunks, and Bolick nailed a triple that made it a one-point game, 78-77, with still 8:50 to go.
Buckets by Chris Ross kept the Beermen ahead, but two charities by Sean Anthony again made it a one-point game, 82-81, with 6:36 left.
Those two free throws turned out to be NorthPort's last two meaningful points of the ball game. San Miguel uncorked a 16-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back triples by Arwind Santos and Chris McCullough, to break the game open for good.
It did not help that Ibeh badly missed four charities, and fouled out of the game with 3:43 left after contesting Ross on a drive. McCullough put the game on ice with 1:16 left, draining a booming three-pointer.
"The composure of the team is still intact," said Austria. "They know how to handle the situation."
McCullough finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Ross contributed 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 dimes for the Beermen. Santos finished with 15 points, and June Mar Fajardo had 11 points and 19 rebounds in the win.
Bolick finished with 20 points and 6 assists, while IBeh had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 blocks before fouling out of the game.
SAN MIGUEL 98 - McCullough 24, Ross 18, Santos 15, Fajardo 11, Lassiter 8, Standhardinger 7, Romeo 6, Cabagnot 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Pessumal 0, Vigil 0.
NORTHPORT 84 - Bolick 20, Ibeh 12, Tautuaa 12, Taha 11, Mercado 7, Anthony 6, Ferrer 6, Lanete 4, Elorde 2, Cruz 2, Flores 2, Gabayni 0.
Quarters: 28-18, 47-42, 73-65, 98-84.
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