SMB enters PBA Commissioner's Cup finals

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

January 29, 2024, 6:00 am

MANILA – San Miguel Beermen dethroned Barangay Ginebra as the PBA Commissioner's Cup champion by sweeping them out of the semifinals through a 94-91 Game 3 win on Sunday night in front of 15,126 fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

After a close first half, the Beermen asserted control of the game after erupting for 32 points in the third quarter to go up, 75-69.

They even upped the lead to as high as 11, 90-79, with less than five minutes left in the fourth.

However, the Gin Kings crawled back through a 10-2 run that cut the lead down to three, 92-89, with 39 seconds left.

Bennie Boatwright kept the door open for Ginebra to complete a late comeback as he missed two free throws with 20 seconds left, but Christian Standhardinger had his inside pass intended for Tony Bishop picked and June Mar Fajardo sealed the win with two free throws with eight seconds to go.

Boatwright led San Miguel, which will await the winner of the Phoenix-Magnolia series in the best-of-seven finals, with 26 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks.

Phoenix Fuel Masters lived to fight another day in its semi-final duel against Magnolia Hotshots after storming back to take them down, 103-85, in the first game.

Just when the Hotshots looked poised already to sweep the best-of-five affair midway through the second quarter, the Fuel Masters finished the second quarter strong and even pulled away in the second half.

Similar to Game 2 on Friday night, Magnolia opened Game 3 efficiently offensively and dropped 31 points on Phoenix at the end of the first quarter.

The Hotshots then pulled away early in the second quarter and opened a 47-26 lead with 5:26 remaining before halftime.

The Fuel Masters, though, finished the second period on a 12-4 run to cut the lead down to 13, 51-38, at the half.

Phoenix completed the comeback in the second half after outscoring Magnolia, 65-34.

Johnathan Williams led the Fuel Masters, who cut the series down to 2-1, with 19 points.

Tyler Bey put up 18 points for the Hotshots, who have another chance at finishing the Fuel Masters in Game 4 on Wednesday night back at the MOA Arena. (PNA)