UP 3-1 in their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series, the four-time defending champions San Miguel Beermen seek to close out the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters in Game Five today at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Set for 7 p.m., the Beermen use the first of the three tries they have to enter the finals of the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament and give themselves a chance to extend their stranglehold on the All-Filipino title with a fifth straight crown.

San Miguel put itself in the favorable position it is in with a convincing and dominant 114-91 victory in an emotionally charged Game Four on Tuesday that saw a couple of players ejected, a lot of hard fouls given and second motions that nearly translated to fracas.

It was a tight contest at the start until Alex Cabagnot and Terrence Romeo jolted the Beermen to an offensive explosion that created much separation from their opponents, which the latter could not recover from.

Mr. Romeo led San Miguel with 20 points, going six-of-10 from beyond the arc, while Mr. Cabagnot had 18.

Arwind Santos also had a solid game with 16 points and eight rebounds. Chris Ross and Von Pessumal were in double digits in scoring as well with 10 points apiece.

Matt Ganuelas-Rosser stepped in for the still-ailing Marcio Lassiter and had an impressive all-around game of eight points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals.

For Phoenix, it was only Calvin Abueva who really made his presence felt with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Matthew Wright struggled for just six points.

Recognizing the great position they are in and how Phoenix has given them a hard time in the series, San Miguel coach Leo Austria said they will try to finish the affair today and not give the Fuel Masters any more chances.

“We will work hard in the next game to finish things. We don’t want to extend the series. But it’s not going to be easy because we believe Phoenix will fight hard for their tournament lives,” said Mr. Austria, who also underscored the need for them to have a good start just like in Game Four to make it easier for them in the end game.

Despite in a deep hole, the Fuel Masters are not about to give up and have vowed to continue fighting, taking it one game at a time, all the way to the end.

Meanwhile in Gilas Pilipinas news, the team’s think tank said it is looking at a longer preparation time for the team for its FIBA World Cup campaign in August.

Speaking at the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday at the Amelie Hotel-Manila, Gilas coach Yeng Guiao said they are looking at the possibility of asking stakeholders, particularly the PBA, for added time to prepare the team.

“I think we need more than the 10 or 12 days of break (in the PBA schedule) for the World Cup so we can extend our practices,” said Mr. Guiao.

Adding, “I’m asking for more than 12 days of continuous practice or if possible, one month. I hope we can practice twice a day for four days in June, then twice a day for eight days in July and daily in August.”

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, who was also at the forum, reiterated the league’s support for Gilas and that they are open to granting the request of Mr. Guiao.

Gilas struggled in qualifying for the World Cup but eventually secured a spot. It is bracketed in Group D along with Italy, Serbia and Angola. The World Cup happens in China from Aug. 30 to Sept. 15. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo