(Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City)
4 p.m. San Miguel vs Indonesia
The San Miguel Beermen did not let their impressive debut season in the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League go to waste.
With Leo Avenido and Nick Fazekas delivering, the Beermen put on a dominating show in the second half to frustrate the Westports Malaysia Dragons, 90-56, and earn the last finals berth at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Their presence hardly felt in SMB’s 100-77 loss last week in Kuala Lumpur, Avenido and Fazekas delivered in a key third quarter where they turned a slim 37-35 halftime lead into a one-sided beatdown.
Fazekas had 21 points and 19 rebounds while Avenido shrugged off inconsistency in the first two games by firing 18 points as San Miguel survived a grueling semifinal series with the Dragons to arrange a finals showdown with the Indonesia Warriors.
The finals will start next week with San Miguel having homecourt advantage against the Warriors in the best-of-three series.
“We played San Miguel basketball,” said coach Bobby Parks. “We were able to make adjustments. We executed well on defense and our offense was great.”
SMB’s dominance was an anti-climactic end to a whirlwind series.
The Beermen leaned on Filipino-American guard Chris Banchero to hack out a 111-104 overtime victory in Game One, but Tiras Wade erupted for 34 points in Game Two as the Dragons leveled the series.
In Game Three, Banchero scored eight points in the first five minutes before finishing with 10 points, three rebounds, nine assists, and four steals, while import Duke Crews also put on a solid performance with 15 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Wade scored 25 points for Malaysia. He had 17 in the first half as the Dragons countered every SMB basket and even led by three points on a few occasions.
But a 21-3 spurt after intermission led by Avenido and Fazekas turned things in San Miguel’s favor. Malaysia never threatened from there.
Center Brian Williams and Patrick Cabahug, two other players that gave the Beermen trouble in the series, were non-existent.
Williams had 12 points and 11 boards but played just 23 minutes while Cabahug shot miserably from the field, missing all nine shots for a scoreless outing.
Malaysia was denied its first-ever finals appearance in three seasons after tying its worst playoff loss in franchise history.
Two years ago, the Dragons suffered a 77-43 beating at the hands of the Philippine Patriots in Game One of the 2010 semifinals.
SAN MIGUEL 90 – Fazekas 21, Avenido 18, Crews 15, Fajardo 11, Banchero 10, Luanzon 7, Dimaunahan 6, Ferriols 2, Yap 0, Fernandez 0, Baguion 0, Gonzales 0.
MALAYSIA 56 – Wade 25, Williams 12, Ng 8, Pacana 5, Loh 3, Belasco 2, Kuppusamy 1, Batumalai 0, Cabahug 0, Chee 0, Kwaan 0.
Quarters: 18-20; 37-35; 66-45; 90-56