Beermen play well in spilling Fuel Masters all over the place, and that’s the form they hope to take against Gin Kings

San Miguel Beer’s CJ Perez (right) also helps shut down Phoenix’ guards like Kent Salado. —AUGUST DELA

San Miguel Beer remained unbeaten at the resumption of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup on Easter Sunday, priming up well for a match many see as the championship series for the second and last jewel of the season.

“Ginebra’s one of the strongest teams here,” San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent said after the Beermen pushed the gas pedal in the second half to beat the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 116-102, at Smart Araneta Coliseum and go 3-0 in the all-Filipino tournament.

“We just have to prepare against them, and then we have to be consistent and give 48 minutes of energy for us to have a chance at competing against them,” said Gallent.

SCHEDULE: 2024 PBA Philippine Cup

He talked that way because next up for them at the same venue on Friday is Barangay Ginebra in a rematch of the semifinals of the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup.

Reinforced by Bennie Boatwright, who has agreed to be the next naturalized player of Gilas Pilipinas per Inquirer sources, and with June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez playing well, San Miguel pulled off a three-game sweep of Ginebra on its way to taking the first of two crowns staked in the 48th season.

The Beermen also won their elimination round meeting with the Gin Kings in the same conference.

Ginebra will also take great form into that match after the Kings ripped Magnolia, 87-77, in the nightcap.

Tim Cone’s entire starting unit finished in twin digits as Ginebra rose to 3-1 while dealing the Hotshots their first defeat in two games.

Big improvement

CJ Perez will give San Miguel great odds at repeating over Ginebra if he puts in the same performance he did in sending Phoenix to a 1-4 record.

Perez finished with a season-high 32 points spiked by four three-pointers with four rebounds, five assists and two steals for the Beermen, a great improvement from his averages of eight points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists in the first two games here.

The Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference and Finals Most Valuable Player was coming off a strong showing in the PBA All-Star Game in Bacolod City where he scored 39 points for Team Mark in a 140-all tie with Team Japeth.

“CJ’s a great player and he knows what to do,” said Gallent. “He was giving the ball, he was caring for his teammates and also realized that he’s a shooter from the All-Star Game. He now has confidence to shoot the ball.”

Fajardo and other reliables like Jericho Cruz, Terrence Romeo and Don Trollano also delivered for San Miguel, which after a tight first half broke loose after the break to take full control of the match.

Fajardo had 13 points and 12 rebounds, Cruz had 17 points and four assists, Romeo scored 16 while Trollano added 10 points and five rebounds.

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Rookie center Matthew Daves posted 13 points and seven rebounds for the Fuel Masters. INQ


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