by Waylon Galvez
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and San Miguel Beer clinched the two coveted spots in the quarterfinals after contrasting wins in the final day of elimination round in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
SMB import Charles Rhodes was nearly unstoppable in the final frame where he scored 19 of his 34 points to help the Beermen to a 112-101 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier.
Protecting a slim 79-75 lead early in the fourth, Rhodes combined efforts with Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter as SMB used a 14-3 run that gave it a 93-78 advantage with 7:01 left in the game.
The closest GlobalPort got was at 94-101 when Terrence Romeo connected on a jumper with 3:33 left, but Rhodes converted two free throws, Santos had a jumper and Chris Ross buried a three-point shot to make it 108-96 with 1:18 remaining in the game.
Ross finished with 17 points, while June Mar Fajardo came off the bench to contribute 15 points, Lassiter and Santos added 13 points each. Alex Cabagnot had a double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’re able to solve our first quarter game. In the last five games, we were very slow… and that’s the reason we’re having a hard time. But in this game, we’re the one that set the tone,” said Austria.
“The players know the urgency of this game. We’ll start preparing for the game (quarterfinal). We have the opportunity (to win another title), but it’s up to us. It’s not that easy,” added Austria.
In the second game, import Justine Brownlee had 22 points and 10 rebounds as Ginebra downed Mahindra, 94-80, to finish the eliminations tied with SMB and Star all with 9-2 cards.
However, because of a superior tiebreak, Ginebra gets the No. 1 spot in the quarterfinals.
More importantly for the sister squads, they earn twice-to-beat incentives in the playoffs, with San Miguel facing Phoenix Fuel and Ginebra facing the winner of the playoff for No. 8 between Alaska and GlobalPort scheduled tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
SAN MIGUEL 112 – Rhodes 34, Ross 17, Fajardo 15, Cabagnot 13, Lassiter 13, Santos 13, Reyes 4, Tubid 3, Heruela 0, Espinas 0.
GLOBALPORT 101 – Harper 25, Pringle 21, Romeo 21, Guinto 11, Anthony 9, Pessumal 5, Cortez 4, Ababou 3, Grey 2, Forrester 0, Pennisi 0, Maierhofer 0, Mamaril 0, Paredes 0.
Quarters: 32-21, 51-46, 77-72, 112.