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SMC All-Stars cops finals seat

MANILA, Philippines - San Miguel Corp. All-Stars brushed off a sluggish start and unleashed a decisive run in the third quarter, pulling away for a 76-64 win over Pro Stats Sunday, 76-64, and clinching the first finals berth in the Meralco-Raffy Japa Cup basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

Ahead at 42-38 at the half, SMCAS ripped the game apart by holding Pro Stats to only eight points in the third quarter while scoring 18. SMCAS then went on to post its biggest lead at 64-46 to practically seal the outcome and stay on course for a third title in the tournament also backed up by the Araneta Center and Coca-Cola.

Richard Marcos scored 37 points, 25 coming in the first half, for SMCAS, which won back-to-back championships from 2007 at a time when past PBA players were still allowed to act as “imports” for each team. SMCAS also won its fourth game in a row after sweeping Group A.

Shem Mangonon had 11 points to pace Pro Stats, which led 25-19 after the first quarter but failed to keep up with the fast pace SMCAS applied throughout the match.

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