MANILA, Philippines -- The San Miguel Beermen have momentum heading into the quarterfinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, but star guard CJ Perez said they have to work on their consistency so as to make a deep playoff run.
The Beermen on Wednesday ended their elimination round schedule with a victory, slipping past the Alaska Aces, 101-100. San Miguel got off to a quick start and led by as much as 15 points in the first quarter, but the Aces made a game out of it in the second period.
Ultimately, San Miguel needed a game-winning three-pointer from Marcio Lassiter with some three seconds left to push them to victory.
"Kailangan namin maipanalo itong game na 'to kasi parang 'yung momentum papuntang playoffs. And gusto ni coach na maganda ilaro namin para sa playoffs, hindi kami rerelax-relax," said Perez, who top-scored for San Miguel with 20 points along with six rebounds and four steals.
The Beermen ended the elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss record, putting them in fourth place. They will play the fifth-seeded team in a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals.
While the win over Alaska boosted their confidence, it also showed that they still need to work on their consistency, Perez noted.
"I think kailangan naming maging consistent first to fourth quarter. 'Yun lang, maging consistent, and then 'yung effort talagang ibibigay namin," he said.
"I think 'yun 'yung medyo kulang eh. 'Pag natapos 'yung first group,'yung second group parang nagla-lapse," he admitted.
The San Miguel starters built a 33-19 advantage in the first quarter, but their second unit was outscored, 28-10, in the second quarter by the Aces. It was a nip-and-tuck game from there until Lassiter's game-winner pushed the Beermen ahead for good.
Alaska's bench out-scored San Miguel's reserves, 57-38, in the contest.
"'Yun 'yung kailangan naming i-improve," said Perez, who is averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as San Miguel's sixth man. The former Rookie of the Year has started just one of their 11 elimination round games.
"Tiwala naman ako sa mga teammates ko na magaganda pa 'yung laro namin and magtulungan kami for sure," he added.
It will be the first playoffs appearance for Perez, who was acquired by San Miguel in a blockbuster trade with TerraFirma in the offseason.