June Mar Fajardo was all business.
The five-time reigning Most Valuable Player carried San Miguel Beer on his broad shoulders, pouring in game-highs of 32 points and 14 rebounds as the title defense continued for his squad.
SMB trounced TNT Katropa, 96-86, in Game 3 to advance to the semifinals after winning their best-of-three quarterfinals series in the 2019 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Fajardo scattered 10 of his total points in the first five minutes of the contest to set the tone early and lead the Beermen to the comfortable, wire-to-wire victory to keep their bid for a fifth straight All-Filipino championship alive.
The behemoth from Cebu was simply unstoppable, making all of his 11 shot attempts for a perfect shooting clip.
“Gusto namin makabalik talaga sa finals. Lahat naman nag-step up and na-execute namin ‘yung game plan namin ng maayos,” said Fajardo of his team’s lopsided triumph.
San Miguel will move on to defend its crown against top seed Phoenix, who won their elimination round meeting, in a best-of-seven affair in the semifinals.
It was all San Miguel from start to finish.
The Beermen flexed their championship muscles hard to show why they are the four-time defending champions by mercilessly pounding on the shocked and helpless Tropang Texters.
Led by Fajardo’s early offensive exploits, San Miguel instantly grabbed an 11-point lead, 13-2, after the game’s first five minutes.
Firing from all cylinders, the Beermen extended their advantage further to 16 points. 23-7, in the closing minutes of the opening frame to gain full control of the game.
That was the beginning of the end for TNT KaTropa as it was not able to establish any sort of run, absorbing San Miguel’s ferocious onslaught until the final buzzer.
San Miguel posted its biggest lead of 26 points, 53-27, at the half.
At that point, the game was already decided. The final score was not indicative of how one-sided the game was.
Christian Standhardinger added 17 points and nine boards for the Beermen.
As of this writing, the final spot in the semifinals is being disputed by Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia as the rivals figure in their own do-or-die Game 3 battle.
The victor between them will face the waiting Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the next phase.
RR Pogoy led the exiting TNT KaTropa with his team-high 16 points.
San Miguel Beermen 96—June Mar Fajardo 32, Christian Standhardinger 17, Terrence Romeo 11, Alex Cabagnot 8, Chris Ross 8, Arwind Santos 7, Marcio Lassiter 6, Ronald Tubid 5, Matt Rosser 2, Von Pessumal 0, Paul Zamar 0.
TNT KaTropa 86—RR Pogoy 16, Brian Heruela 10, Jason Castro 10, Yousef Taha 10, Troy Rosario 10, Kelly Williams 9, Ken Bono 6, Ryan Reyes 5, Anthony Semerad 4, Don Trollano 2, Jay Washington 2, John Carlo Casino 2, Harvey Carey 0, David Semerad 0.
Quarter scores: 25-10, 53-27, 77-55, 96-86.