MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen moved one game away from a trip to the Finals after they eked out a 96-95 victory over the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters and took a daunting 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 semifinals of the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday, December 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alex Cabagnot sank the marginal free throw with 9.2 ticks remaining to give the Beermen the hairline of a lead as Arwind Santos locked down defensively on Ranidel de Ocampo, who missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.
Santos was on fire offensively as well with 5-of-7 three-pointers for a game-high 23 points while his counterpart De Ocampo led the Texters with his 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
"I was expecting Talk 'N text to come out stronger and it happened. We weren't able to have a good start but I told my players that we should not lose our composure and let's keep attacking them," said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria.
"Fortunately, they weren't able to connect on the last shot. The team made a stop especially with Arwind forcing Ranidel to take a desperation shot."
Both Santos and De Ocampo drained big baskets for their respective teams in the endgame.
The 2013 PBA MVP gave the Beermen some cushion as he netted a trey, 95-91, with 1:34 left to play. But De Ocampo did not back down so easily and answered with a triple of his own from the corner 24 seconds later to make it just a 95-94 ballgame.
Jayson Castro, who had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, knotted the count at 95 on a split from the line with 48.3 seconds left.
Cabagnot was then fouled by Matt Ganuelas-Rosser as Santos had the last laugh over De Ocampo and Talk 'N Text.
Marcio Lassiter and Rico Maierhofer added 17 and 10 points, respectively, for San Miguel. While Jay Washington, Jimmy Alapag, and Ryan Reyes contributed 12, 11, and 10 points, in that order, for a reeling Talk 'N Text, who went 12-of-26 from the free throw line.
The Texters find themselves making the wrong kind of history as this is the first time the franchise was sent down a 3-0 hole, according to PBA Head Statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
Add to that the fact that no team has come back from a 3-0 deficit and win.
Austria does not want to waste the opportunity they have in front of them.
"We still need to win one more game. We have one foot in but we shouldn't be complacent because this is a great opportunity for us."
Game 4 will be played on Friday, December 26.
SAN MIGUEL (96): Santos 23, Fajardo 18, Lassiter 17, Maierhofer 10, Cabagnot 9, Lutz 8, Tubid 7, Ross 2, Kramer 2, Omolon 0, Pascual 0, Fortuna 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0.
TALK N' TEXT (95): De Ocampo 21, Castro 15, Washington 12, Alapag 11, Reyes R. 10, Rosser 9, Carey 7, Fonacier 7, Aban 3, Alas 0, Reyes R.J. 0, Williams 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarter scores: 26-28, 49-55, 75-76, 96-95.
San Miguel Beer vs Talk 'N Text PBA PH Cup semifinals: