by Jonas Terrado
Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – SMB vs Ginebra
Defending champion San Miguel Beer turned the tables on Barangay Ginebra with Alex Cabagnot playing the lead role as it rolled to a 134-109 victory that tied at 1-1 the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cabagnot hit 22 of his 35 points in the first half, making four threes in that stretch to highlight a big recovery by the Beermen after being clobbered 127-99 by Ginebra in the series opener Friday night.
The long-haired guard hit three straight triples during a 62-second stretch, giving the Beermen a 67-41 lead with over two minutes left in the second quarter, giving Ginebra coach Tim Cone, his players and most of the 15,000 fans in attendance a headache.
“The shots we’re just falling today,” said Cabagnot before turning philosophical on his big night. “You can’t control what environment, all you can control is what’s inside 94 feet. You just do your best and let God do the rest.”
He also had four rebounds, nine assists and four steals as the Beermen drew level in the series that is expected to get even more heated after a pair of incidents led to the ejections of Arwind Santos and Chris Ross in a matter of 15 seconds.
Santos was tossed with a Flagrant Foul 2 with 5:18 left in the fourth for what seemed like a mild hit on Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson, a call that left the forward dumbfounded.
Ross later joined Santos in the dressing room after exchanging elbows with Joe Devance following a layup, 5:03 left and San Miguel ahead 99-79, resulting in a second technical foul.
San Miguel and Ginebra dispute the 2-1 lead on Wednesday, still at the Big Dome.
“We’re so sad about what happened in the last game but we’re able to get back and even the series,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria, who described Friday’s defeat as “humiliating.”
June Mar Fajardo had 25 points and eight rebounds, import Renaldo Balkman turned in 20 points and 11 rebounds and rookie Christian Standhardinger also scored 20 points with seven rebounds and five assists for the Beermen.
Standhardinger’s strong play for the second straight game gave Fajardo more breather as San Miguel maintained its big lead while putting Ginebra’s multiple comeback tries in vain.
Marcio Lassiter finished with 20 points and Santos was the other Beerman in double figures with 14 points.
Justin Brownlee had 29 points on 11-of-14 shots but accounted for five of Ginebra’s 19 turnovers in the contest.
SAN MIGUEL 134 – Cabagnot 33, Fajardo 25, Lassiter 20, Balkman 20, Standhardinger 20, Santos 14, Mamaril 2, Ross 0, Rosser 0, Lanete 0, Pessumal 0, Vigil 0.
GINEBRA 109 – Brownlee 29, Devance 16, Thompson 16, Slaughter 15, Tenorio 13, Mercado 11, Chan 4, R. Aguilar 2, Manuel 2, J. Aguilar 1, Ferrer 0, Caguioa 0, Cruz 0.
Quarters: 34-23; 75-46; 99-79; 134-109.