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Wounded Ross, Balkman tow San Miguel to 38-point win, 2-1 Finals lead

Despite having a nasty cut, Chris Ross put on a shooting clinic as San Miguel take the upperhand in the PBA Commishioner's Cup Finals. Rick Johnsen Dela Cruz
By Ricky Manliguis

QUEZON CITY—Busted eyebrows and all, but Chris Ross and Renaldo Balkman still brought in the pain.

San Miguel caught fire in the third quarter behind its wounded duo as it made mincemeat of Barangay Ginebra, 132-94, to gain control in Game 3 of the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals at the Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.

Balkman and Ross joined forces with 22 third-quarter points after a tight first half, enabling the defending champions to seize a 2-1 lead in the race-to-four-wins series.  

Holding a slim 53-51 first half lead, Balkman went to work with 13 points while Ross fired three of his seven triples for a 92-72 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Beermen held on from there, even going as high as 40, 132-92, in the final minute.  

Balkman finished with a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds despite sustaining a cut on his right eyebrow. Ross, who also got a wound in his left brow after Balkman elbowed him late in the second period, chipped in 23 on 7-of-13 three-pointers with seven boards and five assists.

June Mar Fajardo cashed in 22 markers, Christian Standhardinger and Marcio Lassiter both had 12, while Arwind Santos had 11.

The 38-point win also tied the PBA finals record for the highest scoring margin in a game, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III. The last time it occurred was during Game 6 of the 1998 All-Filipino finals, when Alaska beat SMB 99-61.

 "Well, I'm not expecting this to happen, ano.  Because I think it's kinda weird,” echoed SMB coach Leo Austria, who pointed out the nature of the series featuring three consecutive lopsided games.
“And we started the game a little bit slow, but we picked up in the second half, especially in the third quarter. And everybody was so focused on our game plan," he added.

Justin Brownlee got 32 points for Ginebra, which also pulled 12 points from Mark Caguioa. The crowd darlings aim to tie the series 2-2 in Game 4 on Sunday.

The scores:

San Miguel 132 – Balkman 28, Ross 23, Fajardo 22, Standhardinger 12, Lassiter 12, Santos 11, Cabagnot 9, Nabong 6, Pessumal 5, Heruela 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Lanete 0.

Barangay Ginebra 94 – Brownlee 32, Caguioa 12, Slaughter 9, Mercado 7, Devance 7, Tenorio 5, Ferrer 5, Chan 5, Mariano 5, J. Aguilar 4, Thompson 3, Manuel 0, Caperal 0.

Quarterscores: 30-27; 53-51; 92-72; 132-94.

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