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Streaking Beermen draw first blood

Photo courtesy of PBA

Games Friday
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4 p.m. – San Miguel vs Ginebra
8 p.m. – Magnolia vs Phoenix


CJ Perez is slowly but surely beginning to show that he’s built for big-time moments.

The two-time scoring champion came out ready to perform at the start of the Philippine Basketball Association best-of-five semifinals series as he carried San Miguel to a tense 92-90 win over Barangay Ginebra Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With the high-scoring Bennie Boatwright taking the backseat offensively, it was Perez who took over the steering wheel as he pumped in a conference-high 26 points to lead the way for the Beermen.

“My hats off to CJ. When we needed a rebound, he was there. When we needed a steal, he was there. When we needed points, he was there,” San Miguel Beer coach Jorge Gallent said.

“I’m very happy, he played very well, especially in the dying minutes, so hats off to him.”

Perez knows facing Ginebra every time always requires a gargantuan effort.

The former Lyceum of the Philippines stalwart stepped up when needed, especially when the Beermen were trailing by six inside the final seven-minute mark.

His five straight points – a triple and a drive to the basket – put the Beermen back on the driver’s seat, 80-79, midway the fourth period to complete the win that extended their string of victories to seven in a row.

More importantly, the Beermen grabbed the upper hand in their race-to-three series as another win on Friday will put more pressure on the Kings.

“Every time we face them, we play with a lot of effort,” added Perez.

“In a crucial game, you need to be composed. We needed our A-game to win.”

Boatwright, who averaged more than 40 points per game prior to the series, was held down to just 23, but added 12 rebounds while seven-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo barely showed signs of the effects of his previous finger injury as he contributed 18 points and nine rebounds.

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