By Vivem Soriano
Eagle News Service
Alex Cabagnot scored a game-high 27 points to lead the San Miguel Beermen to a tight 84-80 victory over the Magnolia Pambansang Manok in Game 4 of the Philippine Cup Finals at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
With the win, San Miguel is just a win away from an unprecedented 4th straight All-Filipino title. The Beermen will now try to close the series in Game 5 on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Magnolia played like there was no tomorrow, knowing all too well that going down 1-3 in a series against SMB will put them in an almost impossible situation. The Pambansang Manok played tough defense against the Beermen, mounting a 6-point lead at the end of the 1st quarter, 20-14.
Magnolia continued to play well and repulse SMB’s offense to go into halftime with a 46-45 lead.
The game remained tight in the 3rd quarter, but the Beermen were finally able to crack Magnolia’s defense to grab the lead at the end of the third period, 69-64.
But Magnolia refused to back down, keeping the game close until the final seconds of the ballgame. Aldrech Ramos had a chance to tie the game but he missed an open jumper with 28 seconds left. SMB failed to score during the next possession to give Magnolia some hope with just 9 seconds left. But San Miguel’s defense forced a Mark Barroca turnover in the next play. Beermen forward Arwind Santos then made two free throws to finally give San Miguel the Game 4 win and a critical 3-1 lead in the series.
Newly-crowned Best Player of the Conference and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo scored 16 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for San Miguel. Marcio Lassiter shot 4-of-9 from downtown to finish with 18 points. Santos added 13 for the Beermen.
Ian Sangalang double-doubled for Magnolia, scoring 22 points with 11 rebounds. Rom dela Rosa added 15 while Barroca managed to score 14 points.
San Miguel 84 – Cangnot 27, Lassiter 18, Fajardo 15, Santos 13, Rosser 5, Ross 4, Espinas 1, Heruela 0, Pessumal 0.
Magnolia 80 – Sangalang 22, Dela Rosa 15, Barroca 14, Lee 9, Reavis 6, Simon 5, Jalalon 4, Ramos 3, Pascual 2, Gamalinda 0.
Quarterscores: 14-20, 45-46, 69-64, 84-80