San Miguel Beer's Alex Cabagnot goes for a tough shot against Barangay Ginebra's Sol Mercado in their semifinals series-opener on Friday at the Big Dome. The Beermen dominated the Gin Kings, 102-90.
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Beermen pummel Gin Kings in Game 1
Denison Rey A. Dalupang ( - March 9, 2018 - 9:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The San Miguel Beermen, the defending PBA Philippine Cup champions, were a virtual tidal wave early into Game One of the semfinals on Friday night. Barangay Ginebra matched that intensity for a while. 

Well, for just a little over seven minutes.

The Beermen kept an iron grip to their lead for the remainder of the game, carving out a 102-90 decision over sister team Gin Kings to draw the first blood in their best-of-seven series at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Friday.

Alex Cabagnot got things going for San Miguel in the opening salvo. His groove rubbed off on teammate Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos to overwhelm Barangay Ginebra early on.

Cabagnot, who just came back from an injury midway February, had five points in that opening-period spurt. Santos had the most in that frame with 10 points. 

As if that wasn’t enough for the Gin Kings to deal with, Von Pessumal added fuel to the fire with his marksmanship that saw him end the night with a career-best scoring. He had 18.

Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar mounted a valiant fight limiting June Mar Fajardo’s production, but San Miguel’s depth was too much.

“I think in a series, it’s very important to win your first game. Kung titingnan niyo 'yung mga stats, malaki ang chances na ang nanalo ng first game… [nananalo] sa championship,” head coach Leo Austria said. 

"But we cannot rest on our laurels because we know Ginebra is playing really well before this game. It might be na baka pagod lang talaga sila dahil this is their fourth game in eight days,” he added. 

Solomon Mercado — hailed by coach Tim Cone in the quarterfinals as Ginebra’s unsung hero — also had 17 points like Thompson and Aguilar. Aljon Mariano chimed in 12 off the bench. But with the production of Gin Kings' usual suspects Joe Devance and Leo Tenorio clamped down, the crowd darlings couldn’t match the opposing firepower.

The four-peat seeking San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra go at it again on Sunday at the same venue. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m.

The Scores:

SAN MIGUEL 102 — Santos 23, Pessumal 18, Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 15, Fajardo 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Ross 6, Heruela 4, Espinas 2, De Ocampo 0, Semerad 0.

GINEBRA 90 — J. Aguilar 17, Mercado 17, Thompson 17, Mariano 12, Caperal 8, Tenorio 6, Ferrer 5, Cruz 4, Devance 4, R. Aguilar 0, Manuel 0, Taha 0.

Quarters: 26-20, 50-41, 78-63, 102-90.

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