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Beermen near semis return

Back on its familiar turn, San Miguel Beer schooled upstart Converge as it came away with a clinical 114-96 victory in Game 1 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three quarterfinal series on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Ranged against a young team that is playing in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Beermen flaunted their championship experience with six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Terrence Romeo and import Devon Scott played like a well-oiled machine that is peaking at the right time.

Fajardo was a picture of dominance.

Despite missing seven games in the elimination round after undergoing throat surgery, the 6-foot-10 gentle giant from Cebu picked up where he left off, finishing with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and three steals that left the FiberXers searching for answers.

“I’m just thankful to get back after the injury. I just wanted to help my team,” Fajardo said.

The Beermen can wrap up the series with a victory on Saturday at the same venue.

Perez was also impressive with 25 points while Scott, Romeo and Lassiter chipped in 23, 13 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Beermen, who played without head coach Leo Austria.

Assistant coach Jorge Gallent said they were pressured to beat Converge.

“They wouldn’t be here if they’re not a good team,” said Gallent, a champion mentor in the defunct Philippine Basketball League who is calling the shots following Austria’s bout with Covid.

The Scores:

SAN MIGUEL 114 – Perez 25, Scott 23, Fajardo 19, Romeo 13, Lassiter 11, Enciso 8, Tautuaa 6, Ross 5, Cruz 4, Brondial 0

CONVERGE 96 – Miller 41, Melecio 11, Arana 11, Tratter 10, Ahanmisi 7, Teng 5, DiGregorio 5, Ilagan 4, Stockton 2, Bulanadi 0, Tolomia 0, Racal 0, Ambohot 0

QUARTERS: 21-13, 55-32, 88-65, 114-96

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