Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
Game 3 meets expectations and a few surprises from the Beermen
In case you didn't get the chance to watch last night's Game 3 because you were still on vacation mode or, you were on the way back to Manila from your Holy Week break, then you've missed an exciting Game 3 between the San Miguel Beermen and the Magnolia Hotshots.
The final score was 111-87 in favor of the defending champions who moved two wins away from achieving a 4-peat in the Philippine Cup.
Were the Beermen that dominant all throughout the game? Nope.
Just because it's a 24-point victory doesn't mean the Beermen cruised to another double-digit victory. Not at least in the first three quarters.
To begin with, the Beermen actually started in the exact manner that was expected from them considering the fact that both teams were coming off their own Holy Week break. San Miguel erupted to a 13-point lead in the first quarter and was able to hang onto the lead despite Magnolia's numerous scoring runs. So what made the job easier for the Beermen this time around?
33 Bench Points
Sure, Magnolia got 40 points from their bench but you cannot argue the fact that San Miguel's players off the bench stepped up big time which enabled June Mar Fajardo to rest all throughout the final quarter and Coach Leo Austria allowed his bench troopers to take care of the game and they delivered. Brian Heruela followed up his 10-point outing in Game 2 with 11 points in Game 3 while Gabby Espinas added 9 points. If they can keep this performance in Game 4, a championship celebrate is almost at reach this week.
Fourth Quarter D: Only 3 Points for Magnolia in the first 6 minutes of the 4th
Like in their Game 2 victory, San Miguel blasted off in the 4th quarter as their defense was able to limit the Hotshots to only 3 points during the first 6 minutes of the quarter. And that what doomed the Hotshots- a fact that even Magnolia Head Coach Chito Victolero acknowledged, saying that his team miserably failed to match the energy of San Miguel in the 4th quarter and mind you, June Mar Fajardo rested in the 4th quarter and it was the bench of Coach Leo Austria who was playing.
Another Double-Double for Fajardo
Marcio Lassiter may have led the Beermen in scoring with 24 points but it was June Mar Fajardo's performance that allowed San Miguel to move within 2 wins from another all-Filipino championship. Fajardo had 21 points and 17 rebounds while going 7 for 13 from the field and 7 for 11 from the free throw line.
The problem for Magnolia: June Mar Fajardo rested during the entire 4th quarter which means he will be more than ready for Game 4 this coming Wednesday.
The long break clearly favored a San Miguel side who has been playing with an injured Chris Ross in the playoffs. And now up 2-1 in this championship series, all the Beermen need to do is to keep pounding on the Hotshots to continue their reign as the undisputed kings in the all-Filipino conference.