San Miguel simply won’t be denied of advancing to the Finals of the Philippine Cup for the fifth straight time as the Beermen rode the hot-shooting of veteran guards Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross to formalize its entry into the championship round of the league’s most prestigious conference, Thursday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Ross and Cabagnot combined for 46 points to power the defending champions to a 105-94 victory in Game 5 and wrap up the series, 4-1, against elimination round top-notcher and semifinals first-timer Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters.
The Beermen, thus, will be making their 41st overall appearance in the Finals, 13th in the Philippine Cup, and 5th in the last seven conferences.
“We’re grateful to be back in the finals again. Before the game, all we need was just a good start. And it just happened,” said coach Leo Austria who will be gunning for his 7th championship in 8 Finals appearances.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the entire game though for the Beermen as they had their scary moments after the Fuel Masters staged a fightback from 25 points down to cut the lead down to 4, the last at 98-94, with a little over 2 minutes left in the game clock.
Fatigue, however, seemed to have caught up with the Louie Alas-mentored squad as they missed all their attempts from thereon while the Beermen rattled off seven unanswered points to put the game away for good.
San Miguel will now await the winner of the other semifinal series pitting Magnolia against Rain or Shine with the Hotshots ahead 3-2.
Matthew Wright paced the Fuel Masters with 20 points while Justin Chua and LA Revilla had solid games with 18 and 15 markers, respectively.
Calvin Abueva closed out his first semis appearance with Phoenix with a measly 1-point production.
San Miguel 105 – Ross 24, Cabagnot 22, Fajardo 17, Santos 12, Romeo 10, Pessumal 8, Standhardinger 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Lassiter 3, Tubid 0, Nabong 0.
Phoenix Pulse 94 – Wright 20, Chua 18, Revilla 15, Jazul 9, Perkins 8, Intal 8, Kramer 6, Mallari 4, Marcelo 3, Mendoza 2, Abueva 1, Dennison 0.
Quarterscores: 22-15, 51-39, 85-70, 105-94.