Painters put June Mar in a corner, but Beermen win anyway

June Mar Fajardo San Miguel Beermen PBA Philippine Cup

June Mar Fajardo (with ball) heaves a(with ball) heaves a one-hander for theone-hander for the Beermen. —PBA IMAGES

San Miguel Beer is not taking for granted the comfortable advantage it now has over Rain or Shine in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.

“We just have to be motivated,” coach Jorge Gallent said after Wednesday’s 117-107 win in front of a packed crowd at Dasmariñas City Arena in Cavite put the Beermen up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and a win shy of punching their ticket to the Finals.

The victory gave San Miguel three chances to lay down the hammer on the stubborn Rain or Shine side, and even the luxury of even dropping at least one game.

But Gallent once again stressed the need to “really step on the gas,” knowing that one opportunity could open the door for the Elasto Painters.

Game 4 is set on Friday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“I’m sure Rain or Shine will come out smoking in Game 4,” the Beermen coach said. “We have to match that, and do the things that we’re doing successfully, and I think we will be OK”

Sixteen of the 17 teams that went up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series have gone on to finish the job.

“We can’t be complacent because the series isn’t over. This is a race to win four games,” said Don Trollano, whose output of 20 points and 11 rebounds were among the reasons for the San Miguel triumph, even with June Mar Fajardo held in check.

Fajardo had just 11 points on 4-of-14 from the field, as Rain or Shine mapped out a plan to neutralize the seven-time MVP, with veteran Beau Belga, rookie Keith Datu and Santi Santillan getting the assignment of slowing down the league’s best big man.

“June Mar had his shots, there were open shots but it just wasn’t going in so he just have to practice more on that but his efforts were there. He had to do a lot of things; score, chase their big man because they shoot a lot of three and spread the floor,” said Gallent. “Maybe he’s a bit tired, legs tired but he did a great job defending their big guys,” he added.

Fajardo’s struggles, however, showed just how much of a luxury for San Miguel’s deep roster is, and it showed with Trollano and Terrence Romeo knocking down the big shots to stave off Rain or Shine, which in the fourth led for the last time at 95-94.

‘Basic respect’

Romeo delivered a three-pointer with three seconds left and the outcome already decided, which created fireworks at the buzzer as Rain or Shine thought it was no longer necessary.

“It’s basic respect,” said losing coach Yeng Guiao, who was seen shouting expletives at Romeo and the San Miguel coaching staff after the shot. “We know San Miguel is a class organization and we are friends with the coaching staff and the bosses.

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“[But] it’s minimum requirement for respect, we don’t have any quotient in the series and we know that Terrence is already familiar with how things are in the PBA. Nagulat din ako kasi parang bastusan (I was surprised because it was very disrespectful),” he added. I