San Miguel beats Magnolia, ties PBA Finals series 1-1

MANILA, Philippines - Upset no more! The San Miguel Beermen successfully bounced back and dodged a potential series sweep after overwhelming Magnolia Hotshots, 92-77 in Game 2 of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday, March 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

San Miguel beats Magnolia, ties PBA Finals series at 1-1
Arwind Santos posted a game-high 24 points and helped the San Miguel tie the series 1-1 | Photo Courtesy: Twitter/pbaconnect

PBA fans were in shock after the Magnolia stunned the league-leader San Miguel Beermen in game 1 of their best-of-seven finals series.

Magnolia downsized a humongous 20-point lead through the valiant efforts of Ian Sangalang to humiliate the Beermen.

Unlike their first encounter, the reigning league MVP, June Mar Fajardo was pushed out of his comfort zone and was limited by Ian Sangalang to just 2 points. Arwind Santos however, filled-up Fajardo’s shoes in terms of scoring. Santos already tallied 9 points as early as the opener.

Magnolia was eager to replicate their victory over SMB. Coach Chito Victolero’s squad kept the scoring tight and ended the first with just a 2-point disadvantage, 17-15.

San Miguel starters were heavily guarded by their counterparts and had hard time making good shots. Despite the slow start, the Beermen still managed to keep their margin. With 6 more minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, SMB led Magnolia by 12, 35-23.

Ian Sangalang continued to provide quality numbers for his team with the help of Paul Lee and Mark Barroca. Sangalang had already posted 8 points half way of the second.

Marcio Lassiter who was a sleeper in the 1st quarter suddenly exploded and chipped in instant 10 markers for SMB with 3 three pointers.

With just 2 points under his name in the first 24 minutes of the ballgame, June Mar Fajardo spent most of his time on the bench and was relieved by his team’s third-string center, Billy Mamaril. Nevertheless, San Miguel preserved its lead at the end of the 2nd period, 48-35.

Fajardo continued to struggle offensively as the player started the penultimate quarter but he made Sangalang commit his 3rd personal as they battled it out under the basket.

Despite his personal fouls, Coach Victolero opted to retain Sangalang on the court and the 6’6” Pampanga native still contributed significant numbers and boards. However, San Miguel’s lead was still in double-digit, 67-50 with 3 more minutes remaining in the third.

Alex Cabagnot at Brian Heruela both contributed important digits to escalate Beermen’s lead to 18, 75-57 at the end of the 3rd period.

Magnolia won game one when it had a terrific scoring run in the final canto. Pambansang Manok looked to repeat its scoring blitz as it opened the 4th quarter with an 11-0 onslaught and trim the lead to just 7, 68-75.

To avoid a dejavu, Coach Leo Austria called 2 consecutive timeouts to slow down the surging Magnolia.

Scoring drought hit San Miguel so hard. The Beermen were scoreless for almost 6 minutes until Arwind Santos broke the ice with a ringless trey followed by a deuce by June Mar Fajardo. This time, it was Coach Victolero’s time to call a ceasefire

It didn’t take that long for SMB to bounce back from an awful 4th quarter start. At the 4:45 mark, the lead was back to double figures, 85-68.

Rafi Reavis who swatted Arwind Santos’ potential game equalizer last Friday got blocked as well by “Spiderman” himself. Aside from the defensive stops, Santos poured in 24 big points to cop SMB’s 92-77 win and tied tied the series 1-1.

Both teams will have a week-long break to observe the Holy Week and will be back for game number 3 on Easter Sunday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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