SAN Miguel Beer made sure there would be no need for a game-winner, like the one that Alex Cabagnot had in the opener of their quarterfinal showdown.
NorthPort saw to it that the game would be close and interesting until the final buzzer.
In the end, the more experienced team prevailed.
San Miguel brought down NorthPort, 100-95, in a tight and exciting contest to complete a two-game sweep of their best-of-three series and advance to the semifinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Seven players, led by CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa, scored in double figures for SanMiguel, which earned the right to meet top seed Talk N Text in the semis.
The Tropang Giga made short work of last year’s champion Barangay Ginebra, 84-71, last Wednesday.
Perez, who is playing in his first-ever playoffs after joining San Miguel following a blockbuster trade with Terrafirma, finished with a team-high 21 points.
Tautuaa added 17 points, Marcio Lassiter contributed 15 points, June Mar Fajardo added 12 and Chris Ross, Terrence Romeo and Arwind Santos had 11 points apiece for the Beermen, who defeated the Batang Pier, 88-87, in the best-of-three opener last Sunday.
Both Santos and Fajardo had a double-double performances by also adding 13 and 12 rebounds, respectively.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria was visibly please by the victory.
“We all know it will not be an easy game because it was a do-or-die game for NorthPort. We consider NorthPort as a strong team,” said Austria, who is again hoping to lead the Beermen to the title after missing the quarterfinal round last season.
“That’s why before the game I asked the team to take this game seriously because their (Batang Pier) backs are against the wall and we want to get to the semis right away. We cannot know what will happen if there ever was a third game,” added Austria.
NorthPort certainly put up a good fight against San Miguel.
The Pido Jarencio-mentored Batang Pier came charging back from a 61-74 deficit in the third quarter to threaten at 91-96 with a little under a minute left.
San Miguel, however, would not be denied.
Perez, Ross and Lassiter delivered the crucialfree throws that kept NorthPort at bay.
With the San Miguel defense focused on slowing down Robert Bolick, Greg Slaughter picked up the scoring cudgels for the Batang Pier with a game-high 27 points.
Slaughter also had 12 rebounds.
Jamie Malonzo added 17 points and Sydney Onwubere contributed 14.
Bolick still managed to finish with 12 points and a game-high14 assists.
Later, Magnolia also completed a two-game sweep by beating Rain or Shine, 96-86.
Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva combined for 44 points as the third-seeded Hotshots finished off the sixth-ranked Elasto Painters.
San Miguel Beer (100) — Perez 21, Tautuaa 17, Lassiter 15, Fajardo 12, Ross 11, Romeo 11, Santos 11, Cabagnot 2, Zamar 0, Pessumal 0, Gotladera 0, Comboy 0, Gamalinda 0, Sena 0.
NorthPort (95) — Slaughter 27, Malonzo 17, Onwubere 14, Bolick 12, Taha 9, Balanza 8, Rike 5, Doliguez 3, Subido 0, Elorde 0, Anthony 0, Lanete 0, Grey 0, Faundo 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 46-39, 74-66, 100-95.
Magnolia (96) – Lee 24, Abueva 20, Jalalon 16, Sangalang 13, Barroca 8, Corpuz 5, Ahanmisi 3, Dela Rosa 3, Reavis 2, Pascual 1, Dionisio 1, Brill 0, Melton 0, De Leon 0, Capobres 0.
Rain or Shine (86) – Yap 16, Nambatac 13, Mocon 9, Caracut 9, Wong 8Santillan 8, Belga 8, Asistyio 7, Norwood 3, Bortboran 3, Ponferada 2, Guinto 0, Johnson 0, Tolentino 0, Torres 0.
Quarterscores: 28-17, 49-41, 71-69, 96-86.