San Miguel grinds out a Game 4 win to take a commanding series lead

San Miguel Beermen 84 – Magnolia Hotshots 80, San Miguel takes a 3-1 series lead

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The San Miguel Beermen pulled out a tough win against the Magnolia Hotshots. They’re now a win away from their fourth straight Philippine Cup championship.

Magnolia came out with a solid game plan to slow down the surging San Miguel offense. The Hotshots concentrated their defensive efforts into slowing down June Mar Fajardo. Coach Chito Victolero used several big men to change up the defense on Fajardo. In addition to that, the Hotshot guards swarmed the San Miguel behemoth from all angles disrupting his moves to the basket. Their ploy worked for most of the game as Fajardo had difficulty getting the ball in the spots he was comfortable in. He finished with only 16 points on 5/15 shooting.

With Fajardo slowed down, the Beermen couldn’t pull away with a big run like they did in the previous three games. Magnolia jumped out to an early first quarter lead as several players got on the board and contributed with scoring. A Paul Lee jumper in the second quarter gave the Hotshots their biggest lead of the game at nine points. The Beermen needed someone to step up with Fajardo being hounded. Alex Cabagnot answered the call.

Cabagnot scored eight points in the second quarter to pull the Beermen back into the game. After Lee extended Magnolia’s lead to nine, Cabagnot scored four straight points on strong drives to the hoop to cut the lead down to just three points. He then fired off a three-pointer later in the quarter to bring San Miguel to within one point. He opened the third quarter with another trey to give the Beermen the lead back. The Beermen built a seven-point with less than two minutes left in the game.

Staring a 3-1 hole, Magnolia tried to make one final comeback. Ian Sangalang scored five straight points on two pressure-packed baskets to bring Magnolia to within two points. The Hotshots had a chance to tie the game after Cabagnot and Arwind Santos missed their jumpers. But Mark Barroca turned the ball over and Santos iced the game with two cool free throws.

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