Photo from PBA Images
MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel banked on a balanced scoring attack to frustrate Alaska, 92-79, and draw first blood in their best-of-5 semifinals duel in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, July 14.
June Mar Fajardo finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds and two steals to lead 5 other players in double figures for the Beermen, who exacted revenge on the Aces following their 103-105 loss in the elimination round last May.
Alex Cabagnot chalked up 15 points, 5 assists and two steals, Renaldo Balkman churned out a double-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks while Marcio Lassiter chipped in 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and two steals in the win.
It was a nip-and-tuck battle after the first period with Alaska trailing by a whisker, 24-25, before San Miguel pulled away and ended halftime with an 11-point lead thanks to Christian Standhardinger, who scored all of his 9 points in the second quarter.
The Beermen saw their advantage grow to as large as 19 points, 61-42, in the 3rd quarter but the Aces would not go down without a fight, trimming their deficit to 9 points.
However, San Miguel proved too strong for Alaska, which only had two players in double figures, as it never saw its lead cut any less than 10 points in the final frame.
Diamon Simpson submitted an astounding statline of 31 points, 24 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 blocks but those were not enough for Alaska to extend its winning streak to 4.
Vic Manuel, despite finishing with 16 points and 6 rebounds, saw his 11-game winning streak of scoring at least 20 points come to an end.
Game 2 is on Monday, July 16, at the Araneta Coliseum.
San Miguel (92): Fajardo 17, Cabagnot 15, Balkman 13, Lassiter 12, Nabong 11, Standhardinger 9, Ross 3, Heruela 0
Alaska (79): Simpson 31, Manuel 16, Enciso 7, Racal 7, Casio 6, Teng 4, Exciminiano 4, Thoss 2, Cruz 2, Pascual 0, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0
Quarter scores: 25-24, 52-41, 75-65, 92-79
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.