The San Miguel Beermen had a splendid showing on both ends in the final minutes, hammering out a 98-84 win over the NorthPort Batang Pier in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A 16-0 run in the final minutes allowed the Beermen to force a deciding match set on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
That rally turned a slim 82-81 lead into a breakaway, with June Mar Fajardo, Chris McCullough, and Chris Ross conspiring in the furious assault to which the Batang Pier had no answer to.
While the Beermen caught fire, the Batang Pier registered only a single field goal in the final 7:19 - a dunk by Lervin Flores as time expired.
During that stretch, NorthPort import Prince Ibeh botched four free throws before fouling out with 3:43 remaining and the Batang Pier also missed four three-pointers.
"It's a good game for us. We got a chance to redeem ourselves from our loss against them (in the elimination round). I'm so happy with the team because they understand our situation right now," said SMB head coach Leo Austria.
McCullough led all SMB scorers with 24 points, while putting up an all-around performance with 11 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. Ross scattered 18 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. Arwind Santos shot three triples on his way to 15 points.
The Beermen held a 68-52 lead late in the third period in a sequence that saw McCullough soar for an emphatic slam twice. NorthPort trimmed that lead little by little but only got as close as one before the Beermen restored order.
"Their composure was there. They know how to handle themselves in that situation. But it's scary given that it's a do-or-die game for us. I'm so glad everybody stepped up," said Austria.
This victory, meanwhile, sent Robert Bolick's 20-point game down the drain. Ibeh had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks.
SAN MIGUEL 98 - McCullough 24, Ross 18, Santos 15, Fajardo 11, Lassiter 8, Standhardinger 7, Romeo 6, Cabagnot 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Pessumal 0, Vigil 0.
NORTHPORT 84 - Bolick 20, Ibeh 12, Tautuaa 12, Taha 11, Mercado 7, Anthony 6, Ferrer 6, Lanete 4, Elorde 2, Cruz 2, Flores 2, Gabayni 0.
Quarterscores: 28-18, 47-42, 73-65, 98-84.
- Things get chippy between Terrence Romeo and Nico Elorde early in the fourth period which resulted to technical fouls on both players.
- Ibeh went 6-of-7 (86%) percent from the field, but failed to make a single free throw in five tries.