SAN Miguel bucked a fourth quarter scare before eking out a thrilling 114-110 victory over a gritty NLEX squad to clinch a spot in the semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Despite being armed with a twice-to-beat incentive, the defending champions played like there’s no tomorrow after the Road Warriors put out a hell of a fight in the payoff period as they knew that it’s a do-or-die game for them.
Elijah Millsap once again delivered for the Beermen, finishing with a team-high 39 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to earn the best player of the game honor.
Millsap’s performance also overshadowed the 45-point production of NLEX import Henry Walker.
Not to be outdone, June Mar Fajardo led the locals’ offensive, capping the night with 17 points.
Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot contributed 14 points each, while Arwind Santos chipped in 11 points.
“I know from the start that this will not be an easy game for us,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “This is a good lesson for us, we will not win a championship if we’ll not improve our defense.”
Austria also had high praises for his wards especially on Millsap.
“I’m happy for Elijah (Millsap). He is willing to take over,” Austria said.
“The semis is not easy for any team. We’ll be waiting for the winner of the Ginebra-Alaska match.”
Actually, NLEX came out hotter in the first period, with Walker taking charge on offense after drilling in four three-pointers and finished the period with 19 points already.
But despite Walker’s strong showing, San Miguel had the upper hand after that period, leading by a point, 24-23.
It was then the Beermen found their groove, erecting a 17-point advantage behind the back-to-back triples of Lassiter and capped the half with a 63-46 advantage.
A seesaw battle ensued with no team pulling away up until San Miguel held on to a 105-102 advantage in the last 3:29 of the game.
Both teams scrambled for the offense as no team scored until Cabagnot finally sank a lay-up in the 1:27 mark to give the Beermen a 107-102 lead.
San Miguel (114) -- Millsap 39, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 14, Cabagnot 14, Santos 11, Espinas 7, Tubid 6, Ross 4, De Ocampo 2.
NLEX (110) -- Walker 45, Villanueva J. 17, Lanete 13, Taulava 13, Anthony 11, Villanueva E. 6, Khobuntin 3, Alas 2, Baracael 0, Monfort 0.
Quarterscores: 24-23, 63-48, 86-82, 114-110.