MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel's chase for a fifth straight Philippine Cup title lives on after it turned back TNT, 96-86, in a do-or-die quarterfinals Game 3 at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, April 10.
June Mar Fajardo shot 11-of-11 from the field to finish with 32 points and 14 rebounds as the Beermen rode on a blistering start to finish off the series in dominant fashion after the first two games ended by an average of 3.5 points.
San Miguel will meet the top-ranked Phoenix in a best-of-seven semifinals duel.
Christian Standhardinger had a near-perfect game, backstopping Fajardo with 17 points off an 8-of-9 clip from the field to go with 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Terrence Romeo also provided timely contributions in the win, pumping in 11 points and 4 assists as he helped boot out his former team KaTropa who traded him in the offseason.
"We're fortunate we're able to escape from this game because we all know TNT is really out there to beat us. They're really a contender. But fortunately, my players refused to lose," said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria.
San Miguel was locked in from the get-go, ending the maiden period with a comfortable 25-10 lead before extending its advantage to as large as 26 points – its biggest of the game – at halftime, 53-27.
TNT never held the lead and failed to shave its deficit to single digit in the second half.
RR Pogoy put up 16 points and 5 rebounds while Yousef Taha chipped in 10 points and 13 rebounds but their efforts were not enough as the KaTropa miss the semifinals for the fourth straight conference.
Jayson Castro and Brian Heruela each had 10 points in the losing effort.
San Miguel 96 - Fajardo 32, Standhardinger 17, Romeo 11, Cabagnot 8, Ross 8, Santos 7, Lassiter 6, Tubid 5, Rosser 2, Pessumal 0, Zamar 0.
TNT 86 - Pogoy 16, Heruela 10, Castro 10, Taha 10, Rosario 10, Williams 9, Bono 6, Reyes 5, A. Semerad 4, Trollano 2, Washington 2, Casino 2, Carey 0, D. Semerad 0.
Quarters: 25-10, 53-27, 77-55, 96-86.
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.