By JONAS TERRADO
San Miguel Beer forced a deciding seventh game in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series following a 103-90 victory Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Marcio Lassiter’s hot shooting and Mo Tautuaa’s inside plays in the first half resulted in another lopsided result, this with the Beermen turning the tables on the Tropang Giga after a 20-point defeat in Game 5 to send the series to a winner-take-all match.
The Beermen and Tropang Giga will meet for the final time this conference at 4:35 p.m. Sunday, with the winner advancing to the finals against the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots or the Meralco Bolts.
Magnolia is up 3-2 over Meralco in the sixth game of their own series being played at presstime.
Lassiter dropped 14 of his 19 points in the first two quarters highlighted by four three-pointers, helping SMB seize control right from the onset.
Tautuaa, meanwhile, scored 24, half of which made in the first half where he was able to frustrate TNT with his power moves inside.
SMB led 53-38 at the half, before it practically put the game in the bag when Arwind Santos drained back-to-back threes to start the third for a 21-point gap.
The result continued the trend of both teams exchanging victories that mostly ended in blowouts.
“It’s a matter of who wants to win in the rubber match at sana yung trend na win-lose, win-lose, win-lose,” said Austria, who has never lost a Game 7 in his tenure as San Miguel coach.
Terrence Romeo added 16 points and six assists, Santos produced 13 points and 10 rebounds while June Mar Fajardo’s 11-point, 14-rebound effort was his ninth straight triple-double and 14th this conference.
Jayson Castro and Ryan Reyes scored 16 points apiece for TNT, but some of the players who were key in the Game 5 win went cold.
Poy Erram had a pedestrian 11-point, four-rebound showing while Kelly Williams could only show five points on 2-of-12 shooting with six rebounds and Troy Rosario put up a quiet 10-point, 10-rebound output.
RR Pogoy scored just six points on 2-of-10 and rookie guard Mikey Williams’ offensive struggles continued again with a 3-of-14 clip for nine points.
SAN MIGUEL 103 — Tautuaa 24, Lassiter 19, Romeo 16, Santos 13, Fajardo 11, Cabagnot 9, Perez 8, Ross 3, Gamalinda 0.
TNT 90 — Castro 16, Reyes 16, Erram 11, Rosario 10, M. Williams 9, Heruela 9, Montalbo 6, Pogoy 6, K. Williams 5, Khobuntin 2, Exciminiano 0, Alejandro 0, Marcelo 0.
Quarters: 27-21, 53-38, 86-62, 103-90.