MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel will return to the finals of the PBA Commissioner's Cup for the third straight season after escaping Rain or Shine, 98-95, in their semifinals series at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, August 2.
Import Chris McCullough and Alex Cabagnot conspired in the last quarter as the Beermen made multiple defensive stops in the final minute to come away with the win and end the best-of-five affair in 4 games.
Awaiting San Miguel in the finals is TNT, which dethroned defending champion Barangay Ginebra in 4 games of their respective semifinals duel.
McCullough and Cabagnot chalked 11 and 6 points, respectively, in the payoff period to give the Beermen enough cushion in preventing the Elasto Painters from forcing a winner-take-all match.
Rain or Shine was ahead 94-91 with less than 4 minutes remaining until McCullough – who finished with 35 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks – scored a floater and a three-pointer in successive fashion for a 96-94 San Miguel lead.
Terrence Romeo then sunk a tough jumper from the top of the key with 1:45 minutes left as the Beermen punched their ticket to the finals for the second straight conference.
Rey Nambatac made it a one-possession game for the Elasto Painters by splitting his foul shots, but they could not level the score after James Yap had the ball stolen by Chris Ross in the dying seconds.
It was a double celebration for Cabagnot as he unseated Willie Generalo for 6th place in the all-time assists leader with 3,257 dimes after churning out 21 points and 2 dimes.
June Mar Fajardo delivered 19 points and 7 rebounds, while Christian Standhardinger put up 11 points for the Beermen, who rallied from as many as 13 points down, 47-60, in the second half.
Import Carl Montgomery had 18 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists to lead Rain or Shine.
San Miguel 98 - McCullough 35, Cabagnot 21, Fajardo 19, Standhardinger 11, Santos 5, Pessumal 3, Rosser 2, Romeo 2, Ross 0.
Rain or Shine 95 - Montgomery 18, Daquioag 15, Nambatac 15, Mocon 9, Belga 9, Torres 9, Norwood 5, Ponferada 5, Rosales 0, Borboran 0.
Quarters: 32-26, 41-44, 72-75, 98-95.
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.