Beermen, Fuel Masters open best-of-7 semifinal series
(Mall of Asia Arena)
Best-of-7 Semis, Game 1
6:30 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs. Phoenix
A multi-titled team playing in the semis versus a ballclub on the rise.
Quite interesting and that’s what you get in the other half of the Final Four in the PBA Philippine Cup.
San Miguel Beer, owner of 25 PBA crowns – the most by any team in the league – takes on Phoenix Pulse at the start today of their best-of-7 semifinal showdown at the Mall of Asia Arena.
There’s no doubt the Beermen have everything going on their side in the series, including a pair of dominating centers surrounded by able outside shooters, motivations, and individual intentions to cite a few.
June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger have been both playing quite well lately, having starred when the Beermen destroyed Talk ‘N Text in the deciding Game 3 of their quarterfinal series last Wednesday.
Fajardo cut loose with 32 points and hauled down 14 rebounds while Standhardinger chipped in 17 points in a rare partnership between two of the tallest centers in the league.
Even coach Leo Austria’s other gunners — Terrence Romeo, Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross – are just as dependable as they can be on any given day.
The SMB’s deep bench as well as its championship experience makes the Beermen the prohibitive favorites in the series, but whether the Beermen can validate that or not is something to look forward to in the 7 p.m. match.
SMB is gunning for a record fifth straight title in the Philippine Cup, the most prestigious among the three conferences held every season in the PBA.
Phoenix debuted in the league during the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup, and it has shown enviable credentials why it is playing in the semis in the kickoff conference.
The Fuel Masters had breakthrough showing during the 11-game elimination phase which they dominated, and in so doing, they also defeated the very team they will challenge in the semis – the Beermen, 96-93, last March 16.
The gutsy plays of Calvin Abueva, whom Phoenix had acquired from Alaska, seemed to have rubbed off very well on the rest of the Fuel Masters, with Rashawn McCarthy and Jason Perkins easily the most consistent scorers in the team.
“We’ve been criticized before na wala kaming defense, but tonight you saw San Miguel’s team defense,” said SMB coach Leo Austria after SMB’s win over TNT in the quarters.
Perkins had his personal breakthrough in their quarterfinal win over Alaska, firing away a career-high 31 points to lead Phoenix to a first playoff win in franchise history.
“We’re serious in what we’re trying to achieve. We’re here to win it,” said Perkins.