Beermen barge into Final Four after short work of FiberXers

Cameron Clark (right) gets away with 40 points despite facing heavy pressure. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

San Miguel Beer became the first team to reach the semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup, but coach Jorge Gallent is bracing for many pitfalls in the latest stop on the championship road.

“Nothing comes easy now,” Gallent said after the Beermen put an end to the campaign of the Converge FiberXers with a 121-105 win in the quarterfinals on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

And for San Miguel to succeed moving forward, it will look to the likes of Vic Manuel to continue delivering big numbers as he has done since June Mar Fajardo was sidelined with an MCL injury.

Manuel delivered 20 points after making all nine of his shots as the Beermen took command after spending the first two quarters figuring out a way to stop the FiberXers and new import Tom Vodanovich.

“I’m just trying to keep my confidence up, especially that we’re now in the semis. I’ll keep going for my shots as long as they go in,” said Manuel in Filipino.

The veteran forward, known for his post moves, medium range jumpers and rebounding prowess, averaged 21.5 points on 20 of 25 shots with 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals in the previous two games—numbers San Miguel hopes he can keep in the best-of-five semis.

‘Motivated to perform’

San Miguel’s opponent could either be sibling rival Barangay Ginebra or NLEX in Sunday’s other quarters matchup.

“I was motivated to perform well in order to help the team, especially as I was tasked to play as a starter,” Manuel said after a conference that began when he was sidelined for the first three games due to a calf injury.

Either team is seen as a difficult challenge for the Beermen, who got a taste of tense playoff action when the FiberXers kept it close behind Vodanovich.

Vodanovich, who got the call after the highly-efficient Jamaal Franklin was given the pink slip for his lack of effort in a loss to Ginebra, proved to be quite a talent with his array of outside shots and inside presence. He went on to finish with 39 points spiked by six three-pointers.

But the talented San Miguel side, even without Fajardo, was too much for Converge as Manuel, CJ Perez and import Cam Clark led the second half charge to make sure that the Beermen won’t play knockout game.

Perez, another player who will be key in the semis, had 26 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals while Clark scored 40 in another dominant showing.

“We have a hard time against Converge and we expect to have a hard time in the semis. We just have to be prepared,” said Gallent. INQ



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