SMB, Magnolia near sweep of PBA semis

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

January 27, 2024, 7:39 am

MANILA – San Miguel Beer and Magnolia moved to within one win from sweeping their respective PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals series after pulling away late from their opponents at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on Friday.

The Beermen first got their 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series with a 106-96 win against Barangay Ginebra.

Unlike in Game 1 where they somehow got lucky in the end, the Beermen made sure this time that they would close out the Gin Kings on their terms.

With the game tied 83-all with 7:56 remaining, SMB gained some momentum midway through the fourth quarter to take control of the game, although Ginebra kept the game close.

The Beermen broke away in the final 1:24 of the game, finishing the match with a 7-1 run.

Bennie Boatwright fired 38 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including 6-of-11 from the three-point area, with 9 rebounds and 2 assists for SMB.

June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez each chipped in 17 points, with Fajardo also grabbing 14 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 3 steals with 1 assist.

Jamie Malonzo's explosive game of 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 6-of-8 from deep, with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block came up short as Ginebra now looks at a 0-2 deficit in the series.

Tony Bishop added 25 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal.

In the nightcap, the Hotshots prevailed anew over the Phoenix Fuel Masters after another tight contest, this time with an 82-78 Game 2 win.

The Hotshots fought back from 5 points down with 4:13 left as they went on a 10-0 run capped by a long three from Paul Lee for an 81-76 lead with 55 seconds to go.

Johnathan Williams tried to keep the Fuel Masters in the game as he converted a layup that cut the lead down to three, 81-78, with 8.8 seconds remaining, but Mark Barroca's split from the line with 2.4 seconds to go sealed the win for the Hotshots.

Tyler Bey led Magnolia with 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting -- including the go-ahead basket with 1:23 left -- 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, and 1 steal.

Jio Jalalon added 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Williams fired 27 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal, while Jason Perkins added 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists for Phoenix.

Both the Beermen and the Hotshots can sweep their series on Sunday night back at the MOA Arena. (PNA)