SMB eliminates Alaska, advances to PBA Commissioner’s Finals

MANILA, Philippines – Full-powered San Miguel Beermen has ended the depleted Alaska Aces’ journey with a 105-99 win to face the Ginebra - Rain Or Shine semis winner in the finals on July 22, 2018 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Monster numbers for “The Kraken.” June Mar Fajardo
Monster numbers for “The Kraken.” June Mar Fajardo’s 26 points and 12 boards helped SMB sealed the semis series vs. Alaska | Photo Credit:

Having the 2-1 lead in their best-of-five duel, the San Miguel Beermen had nothing in mind but to end the semis series against the Alaska Aces. The Aces however wanted to extend their conference and live another day.

If there’s one single Alaska player who wants to get even with San Miguel after getting a shameful beating during the 2016 All Filipino Cup finals dubbed as the “Beeracle”, it would be JVee Casio.

SEE ALSO: PBA Commissioner's Cup 2018 Semi-Finals live stream, schedule, results

Without his backup point guard Chris Banchero and wingman Calvin Abueva, JVee Casio needed to elevate his game to survive the mighty Beermen. The former Green Archer posted an astonishing 8 points in the opening salvo.

23-20 was the score at the end of the 1st quarter in favor of Alaska.

Truly, JVee Casio was instrumental in the first but in the 2nd quarter, it was Vic manuel who was doing damage on San Miguel. Kelly Nabong on the other hand, gave SMB the energy with his hustle plays.

San Miguel might have its twin towers in June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger but Alaska just needed 1 big man to overpower the titanic duo. His name is: Diamon Simpson, Aces’ workhorse import who can do-it-all.

Simpson might have only scored 8 points in the first 2 quarters of this game. But his 10 rebounds were just simply amazing and one of the reasons why the Aces was slightly ahead of the Beermen, 44-43 at the half.

Fastbreak points got the Beermen going as they started the 3rd period and took the lead from Aces.

“The Kraken” finally owned the shaded lane even with Diamon Simpson in front of him. June Mar Fajardo had 19 and 9 with 4 more minutes remaining in the quarter.

As SMB was gaining its momentum, Coach Alex Compton tapped JVee Casio to man his team on the court. Casio’s efforts helped the Aces brought the lead down to 2 with the help of Vic Manuel and Diamon Simpson.

Fajardo’s dominance underneath the basket helped his team ended the 3rd quarter with a 7-point, 76-69 lead.

San Miguel’s lead grew to a double-digit as the final canto was unfolded. Marcio Lassiter was too quiet in the previous quarters at least, but it didn’t matter as SMB gained full control of the game and with just 8 minutes left.

Aside from Fajardo and Balkman, Chris Ross had chipped in some significant numbers especially when San Miguel was trailing Alaska in the 3rd period. Ross’ timely triples kept their lead intact and made it harder for Alaska to narrow the distance.

Although SMB was leading Alaska, the margin however was still manageable and the Aces had enough time either to level the score or take the helm. Simon Enciso wasted no time and sank couple of three pointers in the dying minutes of the fourth. Enciso’s 16 points brought the lead down to just 6.

Alex Cabagnot’s trey with 30 ticks left put the last nail in the coffin as the Beermen formally closed the doors for the Aces and won the series 105-99.

With the win, San Miguel took the 1st finals seat and now awaits the winner of Ginebra - Rain Or Shine semis showdown where the Gins can finish off the Elasto Painters on Monday, July 23, 2018 at 7PM.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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