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San Miguel Beermen escape past Brgy Ginebra, 92-90, in semis duel opener

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GAME 1 VICTORY. The San Miguel Beermen take Game 1 by eclipsing the Barangay Ginebra, 92-90, in their best-of-five-semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night, January 24, 2024. PBA PHOTO

The San Miguel Beermen sealed a 92-90 escape victory Barangay Ginebra, sealing a 92-90 victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal duel kick-off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, January 24, 2024.

The Beermen salvaged the game despite missing crucial free throws in the closing moments. 

The Gin Kings had an opportunity to steal the win or force overtime, but a pivotal turnover in the final seconds turned the tide in favor of San Miguel.

With the victory, Coach Jorge Gallent and the Beermen take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinal series. The action will now shift to the MOA Arena in Pasay City on Friday as San Miguel aims for a commanding 2-0 advantage.

The game was a defensive battle, and both teams fought tooth and nail for every point. Ginebra dominated the boards with a 49-44 rebounding advantage, but San Miguel capitalized on critical offensive rebounds in the closing moments.

June Mar Fajardo played a crucial role in pushing San Miguel ahead, converting two split charities from an offensive rebound to make it 92-90. Fajardo finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, providing valuable support alongside CJ Perez and Don Trollano.

CJ Perez led the scoring for the Beermen with 26 points, accompanied by five rebounds and three assists. Perez’s tenacity on the offensive glass, including a key offensive rebound leading to a Fajardo free throw, proved instrumental in breaking a 90-all tie with just 23 seconds remaining.

Bennie Boatwright, the leading import in the statistical race, contributed 23 points and 12 rebounds for Ginebra. However, the Kings struggled to maintain a lead, and a decisive counterattack by the Beermen in the last two minutes shifted the momentum.

The game featured a toe-to-toe showdown, with neither team enjoying a lead of more than 10 points. Ginebra held a six-point advantage at 79-73, but San Miguel responded with a counterattack, taking a five-point lead in the final minutes.

A three-point play by Christian Standhardinger and a short stab by Tony Bishop leveled the score at 90-all with a minute left. 

However, San Miguel’s defensive efforts, combined with missed free throws by the Beermen and a critical turnover by Ginebra, secured the escape win for San Miguel.

As the series progresses, both teams will aim to make strategic adjustments, and the upcoming games promise more intense battles as they vie for a spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals.

The boxscores:

San Miguel 92 – Perez 26, Boatwright 23, Fajardo 18, Trollano 10, Lassiter 7, Cruz 6, Teng 2, Ross 0, Enciso 0, Tautuaa 0.

Ginebra 90 – Standhardinger 21, Bishop 20, Thompson 15, Malonzo 11, Pringle 9, Ahanmisi 6, J.Aguilar 6, Tenorio 0, Pessumal 0.

Quarterscores: 28-20, 47-47, 73-73, 92-90

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