THE San Miguel Beermen regained control of the series with a 108-98 victory over the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen spread out the court and began the first quarter with four consecutive shots from beyond the arc. San Miguel finished the first quarter with a seven-point lead (25-18).
Magnolia had been attempting to climb back into the game throughout the first half. The Hotshots were able to tie the game at 58 with half of the third period remaining.
Just as the Chicken Timplados were able to get back into the game, San Miguel poured on another run, thanks to Jericho Cruz, who got fired up throughout the game and carried the entire squad to a much-needed victory.
Cruz led the Beermen with 30 points on eight three-pointers, the biggest of which came from the corner with 51.9 seconds left to play, putting an end to a rally that saw the Hotshots pull within 99-96 after falling behind 14 early in the fourth.
Bennie Boatwright’s free throws, combined with breakaway buckets after the steals by CJ Perez and Chris Ross, clinched the victory. This left Magnolia disappointed as some of them rushed straight to the dugout before the final buzzer rang.
According to San Miguel head coach Jorge Gallent, losing back-to-back games after starting the series with two straight wins caused the club to become overconfident in their offensive power.
“It’s just about being confident and not being overconfident,” remarked coach Gallent. “In Games 3 and 4 we were overconfident. That’s what happened.”
Boatwright finished with 21 points, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line, but he has yet to regain his prior form from the field after going 1-for-6 from deep. The 27-year-old also tallied six rebounds and four assists.
Meanwhile, despite being told to rest his injured calf, June Mar Fajardo delivered another impressive double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Simon Enciso was another bench player who stood out. The streaky shooting guard provided an unexpected spark, shooting 5-of-9 from outside the arc and finishing with 15 points.
Tyler Bey’s work, on the other hand, was wasted by the loss, as he led Magnolia with 34 points and eight rebounds, while Jio Jalalon had 17 points and Lan Sangalang had 15.
Paul Lee also contributed 12 as the other locals attempted to step up on a night when experienced guard Mark Barroca was restricted to only four points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field.
The San Miguel Beermen will seek to win their second title in four conferences, if ever, in Game 6 on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Big Dome, Smart Araneta Coliseum.