Bennie Boatwright will now have a chance to have a taste of a championship that he last experienced as a high school player back in the United States.
The import mainly responsible for San Miguel’s string of victories leading to its entry to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals by way of sweeping Barangay Ginebra on Sunday is hoping to fulfill that together with a group of talented men hoping to add another title to the franchise’s rich history.
“It’s a team effort, definitely,” Boatwright said after San Miguel’s 94-91 win that dethroned the Gin Kings before 15,126 fans at Mall of Asia Arena.
Boatwright, who came here on recommendation of former Magnolia import and ex-college teammate Nick Rakocevic, had 26 points and 13 rebounds, but it was San Miguel’s deep roster that eventually prevailed over last year’s Commissioner’s Cup winners.
Jericho Cruz, Marcio Lassiter, CJ Perez and June Mar Fajardo also came through also for the Beermen in reaching the championship stage for the first time in the tenure of coach Jorge Gallent.
Gallent, elevated in last season’s Governors’ Cup in lieu of many-time champion coach and current consultant Leo Austria, is hoping to get his own victory ride against either Magnolia or Phoenix in the best-of-seven series.
His maiden conference as San Miguel’s head man ended by getting swept by Ginebra in a similar race-to-three semis last season. Gallent and the Beermen turned the tables this time.“The hard work we put in [during] the offseason paid off,” said Gallent, whose charges booked a 44th finals appearance in franchise history as the team guns for its 29th championship overall.
Other PBA semis extended
San Miguel will now await the winner of the Magnolia-Phoenix series, which the Fuel Masters took to a Game 4 after a 103-85 comeback win earlier in the night.
The Fuel Masters rallied from 21 points down to derail the Hotshots from marching into the title series via a sweep as they refused to just roll over and die after Magnolia connected on outside shot after outside shot to build a huge lead.
And like what it has been for most of its Commissioner’s Cup campaign, Phoenix leaned on almost everyone to back up its so-called “silent leader” Johnathan Williams to foil Magnolia’s first of three chances to enter the championship series.
“Our guys are definitely resilient,” said Jason Perkins. “Really proud of everyone for working hard and sticking it together.”
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It’s the kind of quality Phoenix hopes to maintain on Wednesday at the same venue as it looks to once again prevent midnight from finally striking on coach Jamike Jarin, Perkins, RJ Jazul, Williams and the youth-laden squad.