MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer made sure there was no spoiling June Mar Fajardo’s historic night as 10-time PBA Best Player of the Conference awardee.

Neither were the Beermen allowing the Bolts to bury them to a 1-3 hole.

With Fajardo doing his thing and his teammates following suit, the defending champions outplayed the Meralco Bolts, 111-101, to force their tough challengers to a 2-2 standoff in the Philippine Cup title series last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Fajardo banged in 28 points with 13 rebounds hours after receiving the PBA-Nustar Resort Cebu BPC award that he won in runaway fashion at 1,100 points against Terrafirma rookie Stephen Holt (651) and NLEX’ Robert Bolick (641).

The Cebuano giant started the fire with his 12-point flurry in the first period, where SMB seized a 23-9 lead before settling for 29-22. This built momentum for an 11-point margin in the third and a 12-point cushion in the fourth.

“Motivated ako kasi kapag natalo kami, magiging 3-1 (deficit), mahirap na mag-bounce back doon. Kaya gusto namin talagang manalo at ma-tie iyung series. Credit sa teammates ko, nag-step up lahat,” said Fajardo.

CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter backed him up with 22 and 18, respectively. Big man Mo Tautuaa shot nine while Vic Manuel, seeing action for the first time in the finals, produced a significant contribution off the bench with eight as SMB netted its highest score of the series versus the defensive-savvy Bolts.

On even terms anew, the protagonists battle for control tomorrow in Game 5 also at the Big Dome.

2024-06-12T16:45:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd