San Miguel pushes Ginebra to brink of exit in PBA semis

San Miguel pushes Ginebra to brink of exit in PBA semis


PBA semis San Miguel Ginebra Bennie Boatwright

San Miguel Beermen Bennie Boatwright leads his team to the PBA semifinals Game 2 win. –MARLO CUETO/

Talks of an iteration of San Miguel Beer’s dreaded quintet from not so long ago surfaced anew after the Beermen moved on the doorstep of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals by turning the tables on Barangay Ginebra for the second straight game.

But coach Jorge Gallent, who guided the Beermen to a 106-96 win at Mall of Asia Arena Friday for a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semis, would rather describe every player on the roster as part of any name fans and observers would like to say.

“There’s no ‘Death Five’ here. It’s ‘Death 15,’” Gallent said.

Gallent and the Beermen, who were led by frontline combo of import Bennie Boatwright and June Mar Fajardo plus the timely contributions from Marcio Lassiter and Jeron Teng, now have three chances to put the Gin Kings away beginning Sunday at the same Pasay City showplace.

The coach’s description showed following another hard-fought victory that put the Gin Kings on the brink of being dethroned as champions, and possibly being swept in the semis, something they did to the Beermen in last season’s Governors’ Cup.

Fajardo, Lassiter, Chris Ross and former teammates Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot formed the original “Death Five” during their days lifting championship trophy after championship trophy between 2015 to 2019, as they made for a starting lineup considered as among the best in the PBA’s colorful history.

Teng shows worth

PBA San Miguel Beermen Jeron Teng

San Miguel Beermen’s Jeron Teng and Jericho Cruz in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals. –MARLO CUETO/

Ginebra coach Tim Cone made mention in Game 1 of an updated version, especially with Boatwright and Fajardo imposing trouble mostly underneath. San Miguel, however, is so deep that Gallent can pull someone even from the end of the bench who would be capable of delivering.

One player who came through was Teng, the offseason signing after years with Alaska and Converge, who has settled in for a limited role.

Teng finally had his best showing in a Beermen jersey, delivering quality minutes in the third, which allowed San Miguel to keep control. Gallent got more than he had hoped for when Teng came in to limit his former Converge buddy, Maverick Ahanmisi.

“Anybody’s good here. They wouldn’t be here if they’re anything but good,” Gallent said.

Boatwright finished with 38 points spiked by six triples, including the last that brought the Beermen ahead, 99-93, with less than two minutes to go, while Fajardo’s career-high six blocks highlighted a strong defensive showing, particularly against Christian Standhardinger.

Standhardinger was held to nine points and was just 3-for-11, with some of his attempts denied by Fajardo.

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Jamie Malonzo’s 27 points on six three-pointers were not enough to keep Ginebra away from danger of an early ending to its campaign, unless the Gin Kings can pull that signature “Never Say Die” comeback again.


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