by Jonas Terrado
June Mar Fajardo went back to his dominating self on the night he won an unprecedented eighth Best Player of the Conference award as San Miguel Beer clobbered Magnolia, 114-98, to tie the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at 2-2.
Fajardo had 31 points on 13-of-14 shots while adding 14 rebounds as the Beermen also revived their offensive brilliance on a rainy Wednesday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Terrence Romeo produced 18 points for his best output at this point of the series, Chris Ross had 15 points and Christian Standhardinger turned in 13 points and 14 rebounds for San Miguel, which led by a high of 17.
Coach Leo Austria was elated to see his team convert 51 percent of its after making just 32.6 percent from the field in Sunday’s 86-82 defeat.
“This is the kind of game we were looking from our team,” said Austria. “We were able to sustain our energy and kept our focus from start to finish.”
By turning the series into a best-of-three affair, San Miguel and Magnolia are expected to play even more determined in Friday’s Game 5 with the winner getting the all-important 3-2 lead.
Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon scored 22 points each and Ian Sangalang had 19 but Magnolia’s defense was non-existent and allowed San Miguel to reach the century mark for the second time in the Finals.
Sangalang and Aldrech Ramos had five fouls apiece as they and Rafi Reavis couldn’t stop Fajardo from making almost all of his baskets in the paint.
Fajardo was limited to 4-of-11 in Game 3 despite 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Winning the Best Player award prior to the start of the match may have given Fajardo more motivation to deliver his usual MVP form.
The 6-foot-10 center was the runaway winner of the award after compiling 1165 points to beat runner-up Sean Anthony of NorthPort who had 641.
He scored the first seven points of the third quarter as San Miguel turned a 54-47 halftime lead into a 61-47 advantage.
San Miguel 114 – Fajardo 31, Romeo 18, Ross 15, Standhardinger 13, Santos 12, Cabagnot 11, Lassiter 6, Rosser 3, Pessumal 3, Nabong 2.
Magnolia 98 – Barroca 22, Jalalon 22, Sangalang 19, Reavis 9, Lee 7, Herndon 6, Dela Rosa 5, Calisaan 4, Melton 2, Brondial 2, Ramos 0, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 25-27, 56-47, 87-77, 114-98.