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SanMig scuttles Magnolia, 108-98

Photograph Courtesy of PBA

With its pride bruised and wounded, San Miguel Beer delivered an inspired performance with Jericho Cruz providing some clutch baskets to inch closer to the crown.

Cruz caught fire while the rest of the Beermen provided necessary support to pull off a 108-98 win over Magnolia in Game 5 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Cruz, who missed Game 3 after drawing his fifth technical foul of the conference, sizzled with 30 points to lead the Beermen to the wire-to-wire win that put them closer to their franchise’s 29th PBA title.

The Beermen will shoot for their second title in three conferences when they march for Game 6 on Wednesday at the same Cubao venue.

“They’re giving up the outside shots, so I made them pay. I need to hit those shots, otherwise they will just clog the lane,” Cruz, who also had eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in an impressive all-around performance, said.

With Cruz playing the fireman’s role, the Beermen were able to weather the repeated uprisings of the defense-minded Hotshots bannered by Ian Sangalang and import Tyler Bey.

The Beermen lost a 14-point lead earlier, but Cruz came through with back-to-back three-pointers to restore order, 88-75, with 7:36 left.

Cruz capped his heroic effort by hitting the dagger, a triple from the corner in the last 51 seconds that foiled a last-ditch stand by Magnolia and shoved San Miguel on safer grounds, 102-96.

“We were just composed in the final quarter,” San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent said.

“We made certain mistakes but we just made up for it.”

Import Bennie Boatwright remained quiet with 21 points while June Mar Fajardo chipped in 18 points and 15 rebounds while playing hurt.

Simon Eciso also turned in his finest scoring output as he finished with 15 markers — all coming from the three-point territory — while Don Trollano added 10.

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