Jericho Cruz, a guard for San Miguel, was heading back to the locker room following an impressive performance that saw San Miguel Beer on the verge of claiming the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. He later ran into his former coach, Rain or Shine’s Yeng Guiao, who jokingly remarked on Cruz’s audacious in-game behavior after he exploded for 30 points, the highlighted of which was a crucial corner three-pointer in the final minute that stopped a late collapse and led San Miguel Beer to a 108-98 win over Magnolia at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
Cruz tied his career-high, contributing to the Beermen breaking a two-game losing streak for a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-seven series. As a result of this win, San Miguel now has two opportunities at a single win that would conclude this closely contested championship playoff.
Cruz redeemed himself for missing Game 3 due to a suspension for accumulated technical fouls and a lackluster performance upon his return in the next game. Cruz’s fifth technical foul of the conference, which resulted in an automatic one-game suspension under PBA rules, was a result of his taunting gesture against Calvin Abueva after scoring a three in Game 2.
Ecstatic about his performance, Cruz said, “I’m so thrilled that I had a good game and that we won as well. I’m still on a high.” San Miguel can end the series with a win on Wednesday at the same venue, otherwise, the series will go to a deciding game at the Mall of Asia Arena two days later.
Other players who played crucial roles in San Miguel’s victory include Simon Enciso, who significantly contributed with five three-point shots, June Mar Fajardo, despite struggling with a left calf injury, and import Bennie Boatwright who scored 21 points in the second half.
Magnolia made several attempts to overcome the deficit after tying the game at 56-all in the third period with notable performances from import Tyler Bey and Ian Sangalang. However, it was Cruz who capitalized on an open spot on the right corner and delivered the final three-pointer that put San Miguel in a safer position at 102-96.