THE San Miguel Beermen did a solid “salvage” job in Game Two of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinals against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night, claiming a 104-102 overtime victory to move 2-0 up in the series.
Played catch-up for much of the contest, the Beermen used a ferocious charge in the end to pull the rug from under the Kings to stay undefeated in their Philippine Basketball Association semifinal affair.
The two teams opened the match with their guns firing from all cylinders, fighting to a 10-all count in the first five minutes of the opening canto.
Prince Caperal then would lead the Kings in outscoring the Beermen, 14-5, in the next four minutes to build a nine-point cushion, 24-15, by the 3:05 mark.
San Miguel, however, would regain its footing as the period wore on, with Alex Cabagnot leading the charge, cutting down their deficit to just five points, 30-25, at the end of the first 12 minutes.
In the second quarter, the Kings pounded on the Beermen anew, stretching their lead to 13 points, 42-29, with a little over seven minutes remaining, and extending it further to 15 points, 53-38, with 2:19 to go.
When the opening half smoke cleared, Barangay Ginebra continued to hold control, 55-42.
The Beermen came out in the third quarter with more energy, angling to get back some lost real estate.
But Mr. Caperal and the rest of the Kings continued to keep San Miguel at bay, keeping a 14-point lead, 63-49, with 7:54 left on the clock.
Chris Ross, June Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter though would pull San Miguel to within three points, 73-70, at the 1:10 mark.
The score would stay stuck as the quarter drew to a close with the Kings still on top.
Recognizing that the Beermen were already too close for comfort, the Kings, led by Japeth Aguilar, began the payoff quarter with a 12-4 run to stretch their lead back to 11 points, 85-74, in the opening four minutes.
Mr. Lassiter waxed hot as the quarter progressed, bringing his team within four, 91-87, with 3:31 to go in the contest.
A basket by Mr. Aguilar gave the Kings more breathing room only to be answered by San Miguel’s Arwind Santos with a triple to push his team to come closer to three points, 93-90, at the 1:32 mark.
Joe Devance made it a five-point lead anew, 95-90, for the Kings with a basket off an offensive rebound.
Mr. Fajardo was fouled in the ensuing play and converted two free throws and pulled San Miguel to three once again, 95-92.
The Kings failed to score in the play after which San Miguel capitalized on as Mr. Santos drained a three-pointer to tie the count at 95-all with 11 ticks left.
Barangay Ginebra set up a play to win the game by Mr. Devance’s drive to the basket as time expired failed to produce the game-winner, setting up the extension.
Mr. Caperal opened the scoring in the extra period with a jumper.
A floater by LA Tenorio with two minutes remaining gave Barangay Ginebra a three-point lead, 99-96.
But Mr. Fajardo pulled San Miguel closer, 99-98, with two free throws that were answered immediately by Mr. Devance with a triple, with 62 seconds to go.
Mr. Lassiter followed up on a Fajardo miss to make it a 102-100 count, with 50 seconds remaining.
The sharp-shooting guard pulled his team even with two free throws at the 15-second mark.
San Miguel thereafter forced a five-second inbounds violation on Barangay Ginebra, setting up the winning play that had Mr. Lassiter once again starring as he converted the go-ahead, tip-in basket with three seconds to go.
The Kings had no timeouts left and were forced to make a play in the backcourt but to no avail as the final buzzer sounded.
Mr. Fajardo led the Beermen with 33 points and 19 rebounds while game hero Lassiter finished with 25 points and eight boards.
Messrs. Ross and Cabagnot had 13 points each while Mr. Santos had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Mr. Aguilar, meanwhile, led the Kings with 28 points while Mr. Caperal had a career-high 26.
“We knew it was going to be a tough fight. We just kept coming back in the game and it paid off,” said Mr. Lassiter after the game.
“This is not over though. We need to win two more. It’s first to four just like them,” he added.
Game Three of the San Miguel-Barangay Ginebra series is on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo