Beermen squeak past Gin Kings to even semis series


San Miguel Beer wavered yet again in the face of a searing Barangay Ginebra fightback but recovered and survived this time.

June Mar Fajardo and Elijah Millsap made the big difference as the Beermen got back at the Gin Kings, 95-92, in Game Two of their PBA Governors Cup best-of-five face-off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.

Fajardo shrugged off an eyebrow cut sustained in the first quarter, coming through with a personal conference high 23 rebounds on top of 18 points while Millsap fired 25 points, including a crucial slam in the last 12 seconds.

After the jam he executed off Japeth Aguilar, Millsap put up a good defense on Justin Brownlee and, thus, the Beermen rebounded from their 108-115 loss in the series opener Monday.

“We didn’t want to fall in a 0-2 hole, and I have to commend the guys they showed composure, knowing that winning is an urgent matter for us in this game,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone, on the other hand, said: “We didn’t start focused. (We’re) kampante coming from our Game One win. As a group, we’re still learning to play a series.”

As in Game One, the Kings electrified the crowd on a fierce chase from 31-47 down, racing ahead at 69-66 midway through the third.

LA Tenorio provided the spark as he scored 12 of his 22 points in the third period – a big turnaround from his scoreless outing Monday.

The Beermen, however, stayed unfazed and pulled through on Millsap’s exploits at the finish.

Alex Cabagnot and Ronald Tubid hit timely three-pointers and contributed 13 and 10 points, respectively.

With Fajardo being attended in their dugout for his cut, reserve center Yancy de Ocampo put in a good relief effort as the Beermen roared to their 16-point spread at 47-31 in the second quarter.

But as in Game One, the Kings struck hard in the third period, getting into the battle behind Brownlee, Tenorio and Sol Mercado.

The Kings pulled even at 58-all on a three-point play by Tenorio off Arwind Santos and moved ahead at 61-60 on a three-point bomb also by Tenorio on a kick-out by Brownlee.

Fajardo made 10 points and seven rebounds earlier, helping the Beermen to a steady start that led to a 51-40 cushion at the turn.