SMB cripples Meralco to set finals showdown vs. TNT

June Mar Fajardo put up one of his best performances in a close-out game. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--It's going to be TNT and San Miguel in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

The Beermen clinched the other spot in the championship round after clobbering the Meralco Bolts, 100-89, in their semifinal decider on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Three nights after blowing a huge lead late in Game 6, SMB found itself in another Meralco comeback, but this time, the former held on.

The Beermen banked on their solid defense in the first half, holding the Bolts to just 31 points, 12 in the first quarter, and opening a 14-point cushion.

They would extend the lead to as high as 23 points, 70-47, late in the third quarter.

Meralco, however, threatened another comeback, drawing to within nine, 87-96, with 53.9 seconds left.

June Mar Fajardo eventually shut the door on them as he converted a dagger layup amid the pressure to up the lead back to 11, 98-87, with 35 seconds to go.

Fajardo finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, and one block for the Beermen, whose finals series with the Tropang Giga will begin on Sunday night also at "The Big Dome".

CJ Perez added 18 points, four rebounds, nine assists, five steals, and two blocks.

Cliff Hodge made 23 markers, eight boards, four dimes, and one steal for Meralco.

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