Beermen seek to widen gap

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Beermen seek to widen gap
San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo has been a steady force in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series versus Rain or Shine.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer is poised to put Rain or Shine in a choke hold before its youthful but tenacious opponents find an opening to strike back.

The top-seeded Beermen warded off the Elasto Painters’ challenge at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series, 101-98, then repeated with a dominant 106-89 rout to seize control in the best-of-seven contest.

As they shoot for a commanding 3-0 lead in a road entanglement at the Dasmariñas Arena in Cavite today, SMB coach Jorge Gallent reminded his powerhouse charges to stay the course.

“As of now, two wins are nothing. We have to get four so there’s nothing to celebrate about,” said Gallent, reiterating the one-step-at-a-time approach of their grand plans to retain the league’s crown jewel.

“This is our third step. First was the eliminations, second was the quarterfinals. We’re on our third and this isn’t over yet. We need four (wins) to finish this step.”

The Beermen, with PBA Press Corps-Pilipinas Live Player of the Week June Mar Fajardo as anchor, seek No. 3 in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser after which Meralco and Ginebra break their 1-1 standoff at 7:30 p.m.

The Gin Kings and the Bolts continue what’s tipped to be a slugfest between old playoff rivals out to settle the score.

“We have so much respect for them and I’m sure they have the same respect for us. It’s gut it out, it’s hard (fought). I’m sure the fans enjoy that, we enjoy it, we love that type of atmosphere,” said Meralco mentor Luigi Trillo.

The Gin Kings drew first blood, 92-88, but the Bolts quickly countered, 103-91.

“It’s just one game (won). We just made it a (virtual) best-of-five. We know they’re going to come back so we’ve got to be ready,” said Trillo.

The Bolts spoiled the 41-point explosion of Ginebra workhorse Christian Standhardinger in Game 2. This one-man-army concept is a major talking point for coach Tim Cone after the loss.

“The game plan was obvious, put the ball on Christian’s hands and make them beat us from the line. And he was almost up to the task. He kept his goings, he kept his hands. But they (Meralco) did a good job of shutting everybody else down.” said Cone.

“We need to get contributions from everybody and we didn’t get that (in Game 2),” he added.

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