Beermen enter Govs Cup semis

CAMERON Clark pours in a game-high 40 points to power San Miguel past Converge, 121-05, last night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA

San Miguel Beer made sure new Converge import Tom Vodanoch plays his first and last game of the Philippine Basketball Association Governors Cup as the Beermen flashed their fangs in the second half to score a 121-105 win and punch a ticket to the semifinal round Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The FiberXers made a last-ditch stand this conference by tapping Vodanovich, who played for New Zealand’s national team a few years ago. Vodanovich took over the spot of explosive import Jamaal Franklin, who couldn’t get along with his coach, Aldin Ayo.

The Kiwi reinforcement had a solid game, finishing with 39 points and 10 rebounds, but the Beermen were hardly affected by his presence as the winningest squad in league history banked on another balanced display of firepower while holding down Vodanovich production in the fourth period.

After hitting 23 in the first half, Vodanovich was limited to only four in the final quarter.

“We knew that he’s a good three-point shooter and he’s going to be aggressive going to this game, so we prepared hard for it,” said San Miguel coach George Gallent.

San Miguel advanced to the semifinal round despite missing the services of June Mar Fajardo.

The six-time Most Valuable Player was sidelined by a medial collateral ligament injury which he suffered while playing for San Miguel’s campaign in the East Asia Super League Champions Week a few weeks ago.

Without Fajardo, the Beermen banked on extra production from import Cameron Clark and provided more exposure to Mo Tautuaa and Vic Manuel, who responded by making key contributions.

Manuel finished with his second straight 20-plus performance. Against Converge, he hit all of his nine attempts from the field and ended up with 20 markers.

“It’s all about trusting each other and learning to play together in the absence of June Mar,” added Gallent, who once again helped the Beermen reach the semifinal round for the second straight conference.

In the Commissioner’s Cup, Gallent, then pinch-hitting for the ailing head coach Leo Austria, who was placed under health and safety protocols, also guided the Beermen to the Final Four.

Converge fell short of making a deep playoff run and similar to its experience last conference under Ayo, the team had a strong start, but couldn’t get its game going when it mattered the most.

The Scores:

SAN MIGUEL (121) — Clark 40, Perez 26, Manuel 20, Cruz 12, Tautuaa 8, Lassiter 7, Enciso 6, Ross 2, Brondial 0, Bulanadi 0.

CONVERGE (105) — Vodanovich 39, Ahanmisi 18, Arana 14, Stockton 12, Melecio 11, Teng 7, Balanza 4, Murrell 0, Tratter 0, Ebona 0, Tolomia 0, Racal 0.

QUARTERS: 34-27, 57-58, 94-82, 121-105.

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