Beermen cruise past Aces

Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star
Beermen cruise past Aces
Alaska’s Diamon Simpson (left) and Vic Manuel team up to beat Beerman Christian Standhardinger to the rebound in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Joey Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer paraded an All-Star cast and proved beyond reasonable doubt that it is the team to beat from now on as it blasted an Alaska Milk side further depleted by the absence of key guard Chris Banchero for a relatively easy 92-79 victory in the opener of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal showdown at the MOA Arena in Pasay last night.

As in their two-game sweep of TNT KaTropa in the quarterfinals, SMB coach Leo Austria stuck with his highly formidable core rotation, leaving nothing to chance against the Alaska squad that lost much sting and firepower minus Banchero and Calvin Abueva.

Banchero attended a personal emergency while Abueva continued to serve an indefinite suspension. Minus the two, the Aces struggled badly even with 31 points and 24 rebounds from Diamon Simpson.

Austria practically used just eight men, six of them churning out double-digit numbers in a dominant victory that bodes well of their chance to make the finals for a shot at a seventh crown in four years.

“As always, the first game is very important in a series. We want to win the game to dictate the tempo and for them to think hard for their adjustment,” said the SMB coach.

June Mar Fajardo top scored with 17 points while also hauling 11 rebounds, Renaldo Balkman put up 13 markers and 11 boards in a double-double game while Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos and Kelly Nabong added at least 11 points each.

Christian Standhardinger finally came back from an injury and contributed nine points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal in 11 minutes of action.

For the Aces, Vic Manuel was the only other that had significant number with 16 points, which ended his streak of 11 games with at least 20 points.  

Standhardinger was 3-of-5 from the field and was with the group that ignited their initial breakaway in the second quarter on their way to a 44-34 cushion at halftime.

Meanwhile Rain or Shine defends its tag as the top seed against a Barangay Ginebra squad that is now the hottest team on a seven-game run as the Elasto Painters and the Gin Kings start their side of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.

The Elasto Painters topped the elims with a 9-2 win-loss record.

The scores: 

San Miguel 92 – Fajardo 17, Cabagnot 15, Balkman 13, Lassiter 12, Santos 12, Nabong 11, Standhardinger 9, Ross 3, Heruela 0.

Alaska 79 – Simpson 31, Manuel 16, Racal 7, Enciso 7, Casio 6, Teng 4, Exciminiano 4, Cruz 2, Thoss 2, Baclao 0, R. Pascual 0, Galliguez 0.

Quarterscores: 25-24, 52-41, 75-65, 92-79.

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