By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE defending champions San Miguel Beermen levelled their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup finals series with the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok at 2-2 after winning Game Four, 114-98, on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Using a strong effort in the middle quarters, the Beermen created cushion and built momentum to hold off the Hotshots and pull abreast in the championship series of the Philippine Basketball Association All-Filipino conference.
June Mar Fajardo led San Miguel in the win with 31 points and 14 rebounds, followed by Terrence Romeo with 18 points.
Chris Ross had 15 points with Christian Standhardinger adding 13 points and 14 boards.
Arwind Santos had 12 markers and Alex Cabagnot 11.
For Magnolia it was Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon who showed the way with 22 points apiece. Ian Sangalang had 19 points
Game Five of the PBA Philippine Cup finals is on Friday.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fajardo earned his eighth best player of the conference award for the ongoing tournament in ceremonies held before the start of Game Four.
The San Miguel big man, the reigning five-time league most valuable player, won the plum over NorthPort’s Sean Anthony and TNT’s Roger Pogoy.
Mr. Fajardo garnered 1,165 total points to Mr. Anthony’s 641 and Mr. Pogoy’s 522.
It was the sixth BPC award for Mr. Fajardo in the Philippine Cup.
Also prior to the start of Game Four, the country’s basketball federation bared changes in its structure and shared it plans moving forward.
Led by president Al Panlilio, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), in a press conference at the media room of the Big Dome, unveiled the changes the basketball body had made, including a new logo for Gilas Pilipinas, which is no longer confined to the men’s basketball team but also to be used to refer to other national basketball teams of the country.
The new logo has the Philippine Eagle incorporated with a basketball, underscoring the Filipino’slove for the game. The words Gilas Pilipinas in italicized font is meant to show the forward-looking mindset the body is taking from here on as well as the hope for a brighter future for the sport.
SBP also unveiled the program heads under its stewardship.
National coach Yeng Guiao is still tasked to spearhead the thrust for the Gilas Men’s Team with multititled University Athletic Association of the Philippines coach Patrick Aquino heading the Gilas Pilipinas women’s team.
Former Gilas men’s coach Tab Baldwin is the program director of Gilas Pilipinas youth, PBA legend Ronnie Magsanoc for Gilas 3×3 basketball, PBA champion coach Jong Uichicois as head of the Gilas Academy for coaches and tournaments, and UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag as head of Gilas Academy for referees and table officials.
Partnerships with SMART, Cignal, TV5, Excite, Unilab, San Miguel Corp. and Mighty Sports were also announced by SBP during the press conference, which was graced as well by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.
Mr. Panlilio said the changes were made to help the SBP function more fluidly across various levels.
“The restructuring is to ensure that we are headed towards the right direction,” the SBP president said.