SAN Miguel capped its elimination campaign in style after trouncing cellar-dweller Blackwater, 107-101, in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna last night.
The Beermen ended their elimination run with an 8-3 win-loss record but will still have a chance to clinch second spot should Barangay Ginebra lose to Talk N Text, which are still playing as of presstime.
They will face either Alaska or NLEX in the first round of the playoffs.
The Elite, meantime, finished their Governors’ Cup campaign with only a win to show in 11 games.
Despite the no-bearing game, San Miguel decided to give it all against the gritty Blackwater squad to at least have the momentum sustained in going into the next round.
“Unusual rotation of my men,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria. “I want to give some time sa players on the bench.”
Austria also had high praises for his wards, especially on David Semerad.
“(David) Semerad, after some time nakalaro siya. After so many games na hindi ko siya nabibigyan ng oras, he played well from the minutes na nakuha niya,” said Austria.
“I told them let’s play with pride, and every time they are inside, let us give some effort.”
Returning import Elijah Millsap made his presence felt in his debut with San Miguel, finishing with a game-high 25 points and 14 rebounds, an indication that the Beermen is on target in their title-defense.
But the man of the hour for San Miguel was Arwind Santos, who steered the Beermen in the crucial moments of the game when the Elite were mounting a furious rally.
Santos capped the night with 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, enough to earn the best player of the game honor.
Three other San Miguel players finished in double figures, as June Mar Fajardo contributed 18 points, while Alex Cabagnot and Ronald Tubid chipped in 17 and 15 points, respectively.
The Beermen looked poised to cruise to an easy victory after erecting a 17-point advantage, 50-33 midway in the second period when the Elite started to get their bearings and pulled off a crippling 11-0 run to finish the first half trailing only by six, 44-50.
Blackwater continued its momentum in offense in the third canto, as Art Dela Cruz, Kyle Pascual and import Keala King connived with points to tie the game at 67-all with five minutes remaining in the third.
But San Miguel fired three straight three-pointers courtesy of Tubid to end the third with the Beermen still leading, 78-75.
Millsap then carried the offense for San Miguel, scoring seven straight points to erect an 11-point lead, 88-77 in the early goings of the payoff period.
They never looked back from there.
Dela Cruz led Blackwater with 23 points, while King added 18 points.
San Miguel (107) -- Millsap 25, Santos 19, Fajardo 18, Cabagnot 17, Tubid 15, Lassiter 3, De Ocampo 2, Espinas 2, Reyes 2, Ross 2, Semerad 2, Abdeen 0, Arana 0, Heruela 0.
Blackwater (101) -- Dela Cruz 23, King 18, Pinto 13, Miranda 12, Lastimosa 11, Pascual 10, Sumang 8, Gamalinda 2, Sena 2, Tiongson 2, Eguilos 0, Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 32-20, 50-44, 78-75, 107-101.