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San Miguel wins third straight to clinch quarterfinal berth

The San Miguel Beermen eked out an 89-87 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup Saturday at the Xavier University Gym in Cagayan de Oro.

San Miguel secured its third straight victory for a 5-5 record, tied for fifth place with Magnolia. Rain or Shine, on the other hand, closed out the elimination round with a 5-6 card.

Chris McCullough and June Mar Fajardo starred on both ends of the floor for the Beermen. McCullough finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks, while Fajardo delivered 23 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks.

The Elasto Painters appeared on their way to an explosive first quarter until Terrence Romeo came in and injected the energy that San Miguel needed. Romeo, who is still recovering from a dislocated finger, knocked down three straight 3s that swung the momentum to the Beermen's side.

San Miguel carried a slim three-point edge at halftime but Rain or Shine displayed renewed aggressiveness in the third quarter to steal back the lead. The two engaged in a tight battle in the final period that resulted in multiple deadlocks and lead changes.

McCullough and Fajardo took turns in manning the paint and blocking shots for the Beermen, while Javee Mocon and Rey Nambatac conspired to keep the Elasto Painters within striking distance.

McCullough hit a crucial 3-point shot in the last two minutes that gave San Miguel a five-point breathing room. McCullough rejected another shot before assisting on Fajardo's two-handed dunk for an 89-82 lead.

Mocon responded with a 3 of his own, followed by a couple of free throws from Carl Mongomery. After McCullough missed a basket, Beau Belga was able to call a timeout with 0.5 seconds left, but he failed to convert a potential game-winner as time expired.

Mocon topped with 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists for Rain or Shine in the loss. Montgomery added 18 points and 13 rebounds.

THE SCORES

SAN MIGUEL 89 - McCullough 24, Fajardo 23, Romeo 13, Ross 7, Santos 7, Cabagnot 6, Pessumal 3, Lassiter 3, Nabong 3, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.

RAIN OR SHINE 87 - Mocon 20, Montgomery 18, Nambatac 11, Borboran 9, Daquioag 7, Ponferada 5, Belga 5, Norwood 4, Onwubere 3, Torres 3, Rosales 2.

Quarterscores: 14-18, 47-44, 63-67, 89-87.

EXTRA DRIBBLES

- Both Chris McCullough and June Mar Fajardo initially struggled offensively, but they came out with the biggest defensive plays down the stretch that also led to clutch shots.

- Terrence Romeo played through the pain of a dislocated pinky that he sustained in their previous game against Phoenix last Wednesday.

- Carl Montgomery played his third game for Rain or Shine, which relegated original import Denzel Bowles (knee) to the injured list. The Elasto Painters are also missing the services of James Yap (groin) and Maverick Ahanmisi (toe).

NEXT GAME

SMB - July 17 vs. Meralco at Smart-Araneta Coliseum