San Miguel fires back

“Everybody stepped up. They were well-motivated.

San Miguel Beer finally displayed its championship form as it fired back to destroy Ginebra, 134-109, in Game 2 of their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven title series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Making up for his subpar performance in Game 1, Alex Cabagnot buckled down to work early as, steering the Beermen to a 75-46 lead at the half en route to the massive victory.

San Miguel’s 75 points was the highest ever offensive output in the PBA Finals history, tying the record set by the Kings in their 135-101 win over the Beermen in the Philippine Cup in 2007.

The Kings tried to contain the Beermen’s onslaught as they trimmed the 29-point deficit to just 18 on numerous occasions. But the hot-shooting San Miguel just couldn’t be denied as it kept on pounding Ginebra to avenge its painful 99-127 loss in Game 1.

With the win, the Beermen equalized the series and turned this battle into a race-to-five affair.

“You know we’re so sad with what happened last game. We were humiliated. This time we’re able to get back and even the series,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after turning the tide on Ginebra.

“Everybody stepped up. They were well-motivated. No amount of motivation can motivate them if they are self-motivated and now we have a series.”

Six Beermen finished in double digits led by skipper Cabagnot who had 22 points in the first half to finish with 33 points, four rebounds, nine assists and four steals.

Best Player of the Conference race leader June Mar Fajardo also tallied 25 points and eight rebounds while Christian Standhardinger, Marcio Lassiter and import Renaldo Balkman contributed with 20 points apiece.

After a 42-point eruption in Game 1, Justin Brownlee proved to be still stellar for with 29 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in a losing effort for Ginebra.

Joe Devance, Greg Slaughter and LA Tenorio backed him up with 16, 15 and 13 points, respectively, in the sorry setback.

Despite the one-sided collision, emotions still ran high as two Beermen in Arwind Santos and Chris Ross were tossed out of the game for flagrant fouls.

The veteran Santos was whistled for his second flagrant foul infraction after elbowing Scottie Thompson in the abdomen area at the 5:18 mark.

Few seconds later, Ross followed Santos in the shower area after incurring his second technical foul following a collision with Joe Devance in a rebound play under the Ginebra basket.

It could have escalated into a full-blown brawl as LA Tenorio and Marcio Lassiter got involved.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

Gunning to inch closer to a triumphant title repeat, San Miguel looks to seize a 2-1 lead in crucial Game 3 on Wednesday still at the Big Dome.

The Gin Kings, meanwhile, go back to the drawing board to avoid a 1-2 series hole in their mission to clinch its first Commissioner’s Cup title since 1997.

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