The San Miguel Beermen clinched a spot in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs after a wire-to-wire victory against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, 110-80, Friday afternoon at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
San Miguel secured its sixth win of the season against three losses, and will have two more games to try to improve their record.
"Right now, we're not thinking of our chances [at number two]. What we are thinking of is one game at a time, especially the game today, this was the most important game, and a win could lead us to number two. But it will depend on the outcome of the other games," said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria.
After a back-and-forth affair in the first quarter that saw three deadlocks and one lead change, San Miguel emerged with a 24-21 lead at the end of the opening frame, courtesy of a last-second triple by Paul Zamar.
The second period remained a tight contest up until the 4:35 mark, when Jason Perkins tied the game with a jumper at 40-all. Following that field goal, San Miguel outscored the Fuel Masters 15-7 to end the half on top 55-47.
The winningest team in league history thumped the Fuel Masters 30-12 in the third in order to lead 85-59 at the start of the fourth quarter. Von Pessumal's triple gave the Beermen its largest lead of the game at 37, 104-67, 5:18 remaining in the contest.
CJ Perez scored a conference-high 24 points, hauled five rebounds, and dished out four assists for San Miguel. Reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo added 18 markers and 11 boards.
"I am excited to play in the playoffs. It's my first time to be in the PBA playoffs. It's a matter of effort and focus when it comes to the playoffs. That is running through my mind and I am very thankful my coaches and teammates trust me," explained Perez, who was acquired in a trade with Terrafirma last January.
Phoenix's chance of making the playoffs is still alive, even though they ended the eliminations at a 4-7 record. They will now have to rely on the results of the remaining teams.
Jason Perkins led Phoenix in scoring with 18, with nine boards to boot.
As of posting time, TNT, Meralco, Magnolia, San Miguel, and Rain or Shine have clinched quarterfinals spots while Blackwater has been eliminated.
SAN MIGUEL (110) -- Perez 24, Tautuaa 19, Fajardo 18, Santos 16, Ross 9, Lassiter 8, Pessumal 5, Zamar 5, Romeo 3, Sena 3, Gotladera 0, Gamalinda 0, Comboy 0.
PHOENIX (80) -- Perkins 18, Banchero 13, Muyang 12, Garcia 11, Wright 10, Manuel 8, Chua 6, Jazul 2, Pascual 0, Melecio 0, Demusis 0, Tamsi 0, Rios 0.
Quarter Scores: 24-21, 55-47, 85-59, 110-80.
-Terrence Romeo did not return in the second half after feeling pain in the insertion of his right Achilles tendon
- Vic Manuel came down with an injury at the 3:49 mark of the third quarter.
San Miguel vs Magnolia on Sunday, Sept. 19, 4:35 p.m.
Phoenix: Elimination round has finished