SMB knocks off Meralco to punch finals ticket vs TNT

By Gabriel Jason Pascual

Earning their shot at the title, the San Miguel Beermen toppled the Meralco Bolts out of the running, capitalizing on a lopsided do-or-die matchup, 100-89, in Game 7 of the PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals, last Wednesday, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Photo Courtesy of PBA

WHEN IT MATTERS MOST

“The Kraken” was unleashed as June Mar Fajardo proved to be unstoppable in the paint and on the board, erupting for a game-high 29 points alongside 14 rebounds.

Powered by Fajardo’s paint presence, “the Kraken” opened the floodgates for an early Marcio Lassiter barrage to claim the early lead, 12-2.

STRONG START

Already off to a great start, the Beermen never looked back, firing from all cylinders to take a 45-31 advantage to end the first half.

The Bolts continued to bleed for points as CJ Perez dissected the Meralco offense and proved to be a pickpocket maestro by collecting five steals to give way for easy baskets.

The Beermen’s stellar all-around defense was the factor that helped SMB to maintain their lead, holding down the Bolts to a sub par 40% FG.

As he led the game in steals, Perez was also instrumental on the offensive side of the court as his 18-point performance gave way for the Beermen to maintain their lead, 73-54 by the start of the fourth.

A SIGN OF LIFE

As the clock winds down, Cliff Hodge and Chris Newsome started to go on a tear, completing a 14-4 run to cut the SMB lead to 10, and inch the Bolts closer, 84-74.

STRONGER FINISH

Fending off any chance of a comeback, Vic Manuel and Jericho Cruz led the way for an SMB surge that finally put the Bolts to sleep, and secured the win.

After a series that was truly defined as a back-and-forth battle, SMB is now one step closer to dethroning the reigning champions as they never bothered to let the game 7 to be any more competitive.
The Beermen now look forward to their finals duel against the defending champions, the TNT Katropa who butchered the Magnolia Hotshots in a stellar Game 6 outing to continue their quest for retention.


Edited by Quian Vencel Galut
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