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Beermen roll past Fuel Masters, share third place

Tony dela Cruz of Alaska chases a drivng James Yap of Rain or Shine in this bit of action in the PBA . Jun Mendoza               

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer foiled Phoenix Fuel’s upset bid on clutch hits by Terrence Watson and Alex Cabagnot, squeezing out a 109-107 win to move up to joint third entering the final week of the PBA Governors Cup eliminations at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo last night.

The Beermen shattered a 104-all count on decisive back-to-back baskets by Watson and preserved the win on three-of-four charities by Cabagnot in the closing seconds of the well-fought ball game.

“Credit to coach Ariel Vanguardia and his team, they prepared hard and fought hard although they’re out of the playoff race. They showed their pride,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “It’s really hard to be the team to beat. It’s hard to win. They’re all preparing hard against us.”

The Beermen needed to work their way from 13 points down in the first half before withstanding the Fuel Masters for a fourth straight win that tied them with the NLEX Road Warriors and the TNT KaTropa Texters at third at 7-3.

Watson, Cabagnot and June Mar Fajardo all churned out double-double numbers, leading the Beermen to the victory that primed the team up for a critical match with the Meralco Bolts in the final play date of the elims Sunday.

“It’s a big game. A win will assure us a spot in the Top Four,” said Austria.

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In the first game, Rain or Shine stayed right behind the frontrunners and remained in the fight for the Top Four as the Elasto Painters overpowered an undermanned Alaska Milk side, 112-82.

The E-Painters left nothing to chance, pounding a token resistance put up by the Alaska team playing minus core players Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Chris Banchero and Kevin Racal.

J’Nathan Bullock, Beau Belga, Jericho Cruz and Don Trollano led a balance Rain or Shine attack leading to the breakaway win that preserved their Final Four hopes with a 6-4 win-loss record.

They close out their elims stint versus the Blackwater Elite Saturday over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, going for another win that can give them a crack at No. 4 seeding in the playoffs.

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