SMB escapes ROS to open PBA PH Cup semis

June Mar Fajardo was dominant inside again for SMB. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--San Miguel held on despite a mini-run by Rain Or Shine in the end for a 101-98 win at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Friday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

The Beermen last scored on a Don Trollano layup that upped their lead to six, 101-95, with 2:21 left.

However, Jhonard Clarito answered with a layup of his own to cut the lead down to four entering the two-minute mark.

The Elasto Painters had a chance to trim the gap further, but Clarito lost the ball to Chris Ross after Gian Mamuyac secured the rebound off a Trollano miss.

Ross missed a three-pointer of his own but made up for it by stealing the ball from Mamuyac before the shotclock expired on ROS.

Mamuyac, though, bounced back by stripping the ball from June Mar Fajardo, and Andrei Caracut had a chance to bring the E-Painters closer with 31 seconds left.

Caracut only made a split from the foul line, but his team got a chance to force overtime after Trollano air-balled an open three with 11 seconds to go.

Caracut tried a long triple from the MOA Arena logo, but his shot only hit the back iron and Ross grabbed the game-saving rebound for the Beermen.

Fajardo finished with 23 points on 8-for-11 field goals, 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and one steal for SMB, which drew first blood in their best-of-seven series.

Trollano added 17 points, six rebounds, and one steal off the bench.

Fresh from his career game that helped ROS seal its place in the semifinals, Mamuyac top-scored for the team anew with 20 points alongside seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

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