By Patrick Sutare
QUEZON CITY--San Miguel warded off a spirited Ginebra comeback down the stretch, banking on a well-sufficient cushion established in the first half to topple the Barangay in Game 4, 94-85, Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and inch closer from capturing its third straight PBA Philippine Cup title.
With its array of weapons clicking right from the get go, SMB was able to build an early 20-2 advantage built around a combined six triples from four of the team's starters.
They would lead by as much as 26, 60-34, after five quick points to start the third, seemingly picking where they left off in the first half where they carried a 55-34 lead into the break.
But a Ginebra fight back is something the defending champs knew was coming, and it broke out at the middle of the third frame.
Joe Devance, who still was playing with virtually a single foot, anchored the Kings' salvo in the period, capping a 9-0 blast to put Ginebra to within 15, 52-67.
But that turned out to be the largest flurry the Kings could instigate, as the Beermen staved them off from breaking the double-digit gap until the last two minutes of the game.
An LA Tenorio triple with exaclty 2:01 to go finally put Ginebra to within nine, 83-92. They even pulled to as close as seven with less than a minute left, 85-92, but the time left obviously proved to be insufficient as the Beermen established just enough to have the Gin Kings catching up the whole time.
Chris Ross continues his brilliance offensively, this time taking advantage of Ginebra's defense which appeared to have played the averages by luring him to launch much from the beyond the arc.
The starting guard for SMB made his defenders pay as he uncorked 17 points on five triples and neared a double-double after dishing out nine assists,
Junemar Fajardo, who won his fifth Best Player of the Conference plum prior to the match, posted yet another solid numbers of 20 points and 13 rebounds. Marcio Lassiter poured in 20 markers as well.
Devance paced Ginebra with 22 points, six boards and two assists, while Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar had 12 apiece as they found their team dumped on a 1-3 hole.
San Miguel guns to end the series on Sunday still at the Big Dome, and finally raise the historic PBA Perpetual Trophy.
San Miguel 94-Fajardo 20, Lassiter 20, Ross 17, Cabagnot 13, Santos 8, Tubid 8, de Ocampo 5, Espinas 3, Heruela 0
Ginebra 85-Devance 22, Tenorio 12, Aguilar 12, Ellis 10, Thompson 7, Ferrer 6, Mercado 6, Marcelo 4, Caguioa 3, Mariano 2, Cruz 1
Quarterscores: 30-18, 55-34, 76-63, 94-85
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