(Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Star
(Series tied 3-3)
Game 7: Gin Kings vs Hotshots.
The San Miguel Beermen went on an incredible display of offensive efficiency in the third quarter and routed the Jayson Castro-less TNT KaTropa, 96-83, last night in the deciding seventh game of their semifinal series to punch their ticket to the finals of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
San Miguel made 15-of-19 shots in the third led by the trio of Chris Ross, Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo to turn a slim 41-39 halftime lead to a runaway victory that put the PBA’s remaining charter member to a record 37th finals appearance.
It also put the Beermen to their last phase of their crack at capturing a third straight Philippine Cup and own the conference’s perpetual trophy against the winner of the other semifinal series between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the Star Hotshots.
San Miguel’s two sister teams dispute the other finals berth in a Game 7 tonight at the same venue. Game 1 of the best-of-seven title series starts on Friday.
Santos and Fajardo led the way with 22 points apiece, the two combining for 32 rebounds, while Ross added 18 points, six rebounds and 11 assists.
Coach Leo Austria, who will seek his fourth title in as many appearances in the championship round, praised his team for playing with precision after battling to a nip-and-tuck first half that saw both teams exchanging leads.
Ross scored 11 in the third, Santos hit two triples while Fajardo had two baskets off a pair of give-and-go plays with Alex Cabagnot as the Beermen built a big lead, 77-57, near the end of the third that left the KaTropa numbed.
“I don’t know what happened dun sa third quarter na yun, but I think the players arrested yung weakness nila pagdating sa third quarter na bumabagsak kami,” Austria said. “But this time, maganda nilaro namin, maybe because of the sense of urgency ng mga players.
“I think out of our 11 games namin sa elimination, sa third quarter kami bumabagsak. But in this semifinals, no tomorrow. Kaya yung mga players nag-exert sila ng effort dahil alam natin na wala nang next game,” he added.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the Star Hotshots slug it out one more time with a finals berth at stake in the deciding seventh game of their Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Mall of Asia Arena.
SAN MIGUEL 96 – Fajardo 22, Santos 22, Ross 18, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 12, Espinas 8, Garcia 0, De Ocampo 0, Heruela 0.
TNT KATROPA 83 – Fonacier 14, Pogoy 13, Williams 11, De Ocampo 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 9, Reyes 7, Rosales 6, Rosario 5, Tautuaa 5, Seigle 4, Tamsi 0.
Quarters: 22-19; 41-39; 77-60; 96-83.