Beermen snap Bay Area to stay alive in semis
Spitfire guard Simon Enciso drained what would prove to be the triple, while San Miguel Beer made two key stops in the final 10 seconds to break out a 98-96 victory over fancied Bay Area, cutting the Dragons’ 2022- 23 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series led 2-1 in the process Sunday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Beermen played with fierce determination against the visiting foreign team who beat them three consecutive times all the way back to the elims, refusing to back down against a Dragons side looking to complete a three-match streak.
After Enciso’s big three, SMB clamped down on defense with import Devon Scott blocking Bay Area guard Kobey Lam’s layup attempt, while Jericho Cruz completed another defensive gem on Hayden Blankley’s own attempt as time expired to preserve the Beermen win .
“Confidence na samag sa amin, malaki ito,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria said during the post-match press conference.
“This is an indication that the Bay Area can be beaten.”
While the Beermen are still trailing the streak, the win breathed new life into the league’s winning team, with San Miguel looking to force a winner-take-all matchup by winning Game Four when the action shifts this Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Six-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo again had a big night, completing a double-double of 21 points and 16 rebounds while matching up against Bay Area Canadian import Andrew Nicholson and 7-foot-5 Chuanxing Lui.
The 6-10 Fajardo poured in 12 points in the third canto after teaming up with the San Miguel import who turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 75-70 lead heading into the final period.
Scott bounced back from a quiet start in the first two games of the series by scoring 25 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Nicholson led the Dragons with 34 points and 14 rebounds while Zhu Songwei chipped in 17 before leaving the game with just less than 11 seconds left after injuring his right foot on a bad fall.