BEERMEN SLAM DOOR ON EXPRESS, GAIN SEMIS

MANILA, NOVEMBER 17, 2003  (MALAYA) San Miguel Beer was more determined and had all the proper tools.

Result was a 100-90 victory over FedEx last night at the Araneta Coliseum that made the Beermen the first team to barge into the semifinals of the season-ending 2003 PBA Reinforced Conference.

San Miguel Beer was simply too hot to handle for FedEx, which was outclassed in every department, giving the former a 2-0 sweep of the best-of-three quarterfinals series.

San Miguel will either face Sta. Lucia or Alaska in the next round.

Import Kwan Johnson best typified San Miguel's attack as he scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds. But more important, the energy he brought rubbed off on his teammates, particularly Danny Ildefonso, Olsen Racela, Hontiveros and Fil-Ams Nic Belasco and Dorian Peņa.

Johnson, whose first stint in the PBA was with the Realtors four years ago, and Ildefonso combined for 25 first half points that allowed the Beermen to grab a pair of 18-point leads midway in the second period.

FedEx was able to trim the lead to 53-40 at halftime behind the big plays of import Terrence Shannon, who bounced back from his poor performance in Game 1. He finished with 36 points and 19 rebounds.

But there was no stopping San Miguel in its quest for a semifinals seat as Racela drilled in a three-pointer that sparked a 15-6 run, turning a 59-45 lead to 74-51 with 3:45 left in the third period.

Belasco and Hontiveros also connected a triple each in that surge.

"Terrence (Shannon) was spectacular tonight. We tried to limit his scoring but we weren't able to contain him," said Johnson. "But we were successful in limiting his teammates like (Vergel) Meneses and

(Renren) Ritualo."

San Miguel had some anxious moments, opening the door for FedEx.

Especially n the final stretch, where sloppy plays by the Beermen had the Express cutting an 81-58 deficit to just 81-89 as Ritualo finally found his touch from 3-point territory, highlighting a 23-8 blast with back-to-back triples.

But Hontiveros had a crucial defensive stop, blocking a three-point shot by Ritualo, which led to a breakaway, tomahawk dunk by Ildefonso.

Ritualo missed a triple in the next play while Racela, fouled by Wynne Arboleda, canned two free throws that finally shut the door for the rallying Express.

Ildefonso backed up Johnson with 17 markers while Belasco added 15, Hontiveros 12 and Racela 10.

The scores:

FIRST GAME

San Miguel 100 - Johnson 28, Ildefonso 17, Belasco 15, Hontiveros 12, Racela 10, Peņa 7, Victoria 6, Mente 5.

FedEx 90 - Shannon 36, Codiņera 17, Arboleda 11, Ferriols 8, Ritualo 8, Billones 2, Meneses 2, Yap 2, Ortiguerra 2, De Ocampo 2, Rodriguez 0.

Quarterscores: 23-21; 53-40; 78-57; 100-90.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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