Beermen advance to finals, hold off Hotshots in Game 4

June 16, 2017

San Miguel Beer had had enough of scary squeakers. The Beermen showed their stuffs as a champion team and subdued the Star Hotshots, 109-102, to claim the first berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night. The Beermen broke away in the third period, 83-69, and led by as many as 17 early in the fourth that proved enough cushion against the Hotshots’ endgame chase. They won the series at three-games-to-one as they strung up three straight victories after dropping Game One. They set them up for the series clincher following thrillers of triumphs in Game Two (77-76) and Game Three (111-110). But the Beermen asserted themselves in Game Four on big games by Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and June Mar Fajardo, and lined themselves up for a shot at a second crown this season. They await the winner of the TNT KaTropa-Barangay Ginebra series. “The guys just showed they’re still hungry after all our championships in the last three years,” said Austria. “They showed their championship caliber, and while Charles (Rhodes) struggled due to early fouls, our other starters worked hard and proved they’re the best all-Filipino core group in the league,” Austria also said. Cabagnot sizzled with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists, Ross frolicked with 24 points, 10 assists and four rebounds while Fajardo piled up 22 markers, eight boards and two dish-offs. Charles Rhodes had to fight off early foul-trouble situation, contributing 21 points and 10 rebounds as against Ricardo Ratliffe’s monstrous numbers of 36 points and 17 rebounds. But the Beermen got their job done especially in the third where they held Ratliffe to four points and in the process started their decisive breakaway. The Beermen broke away from a tight first half as they pummeled the Hotshots, 31-20, in the third period. Ratliffe dominated with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Ross fired three treys in their third-quarter breakaway, the first one giving them their first double-digit spread at 71-61. San Miguel and Star engaged in a tight battle in the first half with no team leading by no more than eight points. It took well-spread numbers among Ross, Cabagnot, Fajardo and Rhodes as they took the opening quarter at 29-27 and the half at 52-49.