Beermen rip Llamados, make 31st PBA finals

source: gmanews.tv

Derby Ace’s heart was simply no match to San Miguel’s defense and firepower. The Beermen endured a late Llamados rally down the stretch to score a 91-83 win Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum and earn a return trip to the Finals of the PBA Fiesta Cup.


Gabe Freeman, the reigning Best Import of the season-ending conference, again proved to be huge for the defending champion on both ends of the floor, coming through with 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting from the foul line, while grabbing 22 rebounds.

But it was the big defensive stops pulled off by Arwind Santos and Jay Washington in the waning minutes and Dondon Hontiveros’ effective shackling of James Yap that spelled the difference in the Game 6 win that allowed the league’s winningest franchise to wrap up the series, 4-2, and make it to the Fiesta Cup Finals for the second straight time.

In all, this will be the Beermen’s 31st appearance in a championship series.

They will have few precious days to rest and prepare as they await their championship opponent, which will not be known until Wednesday when Alaska and top seeded Talk `N Text dispute the remaining Finals berth in a deciding Game 7 of the other Final Four pairing.

“We’re definitely looking forward to the Finals," said coach Siot Tanquingcen, unbeaten in all of his three appearances in the Finals, including the 2009 Fiesta Cup when he steered the Beermen to a seven-game series win over Barangay Ginebra.

The Beermen will now try to become the first team to defend a title in the last eight years since Red Bull last did the trick in the 2002 and 2003 Commissioner’s Cup.

Washington added 18 points and Santos 14 for the Beermen, who led by as many as 75-61 early in the fourth.

But with import Tony Washam taking charge, the Llamados threatened at 81-75 with 3:14 to play.

Unfortunately, the Llamados just couldn’t pull it off together this time the way they did many times in the past when their lives – and season – were on the line.

James Yap bungled it for the Llamados.

Taking the spot for Marc Pingris at the free-throw line after the Derby Ace forward was fouled hard on a flagrant foul by Joseph Yeo, Yap missed the two free throws, and then failed to capitalize in the next possession when his three-pointer came up short.

Washington, then, hit two free throws (83-75), before Washam, whose previous attempt was blocked by Santos, was whistled for an offensive foul off Washington that all but sealed the end of the Llamados’ season.

“It starts with defense for us," Freeman stressed.

Tanquingcen added, “The glaring difference is our effort. Derby Ace is a proud champion. They’re not just going to lie down and give us the win. You have to work."

Washington added 18 points and 13 rebounds while Santos 14 for the Beermen, winner of 18 league titles, the most in the 35-year history of the PBA.

Washam led the Llamados with 30 points, Roger Yap with 15, while James Yap 14, but was held to 6-of-16 shooting by the daunting defense of Hontiveros. - RCJ, GMANews.TV


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