SMB now at cusp of PH Cup 4-peat with squeaker over Magnolia


MANILA — San Miguel Beermen moved forward to within a win from claiming its fourth consecutive PBA Philippine Cup title after an 84-80 cliffhanger over Magnolia Hotshots in Game 4 of the finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

The Beermen’s defense down the stretch paid dividends for them as they built a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, winning for the third straight time.

The Hotshots stifled the Beermen from the start, limiting them to only 14 points in the first quarter.

SMB’s offense then picked up in the second quarter, scoring 31 points and cutting Magnolia’s lead to just one, 46-45, at halftime.

The Beermen’s defense then began to work in the third quarter, limiting the Hotshots to just 18 points while taking a 69-64 lead.

SMB seemed poised to finishing off Magnolia after taking an 82-75 lead with 1:58 to go, but the latter scored five straight points via Ian Sangalang to cut the lead down to two, 82-80, with 1:12 left.

The Hotshots even had a chance to force overtime as they made a defensive stop with eight seconds left, but Mark Barroca turned the ball over in the ensuing play and Arwind Santos sealed the win with two charities.

Alex Cabagnot tallied 27 points, one rebound, two assists, and one steal, while Santos (13 points and 11 rebounds) and Junemar Fajardo (16 points and 13 rebounds) each tallied double-doubles for SMB, which can finish the series on Friday night in Game 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Ian Sangalang made 22 markers, 11 boards, and two dimes for Magnolia, which now needs to win the last three games to steal the title.