MANILA — San Miguel Beer put itself in the history book of basketball by becoming the first ever professional basketball team to come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a championship series.
In front of over 23,000 crowd that trooped at the MOA Arena on Wednesday night, the Beermen completed that amazing comeback via a 96-89 in do-or-die Game 7 against Alaska to retain the Philippine Cup title.
The Beermen led by as much as 21 points before the Aces unleashed a gallant rally at the start of the fourth quarter to move within five points down, 70-75, via a blistering 10-2 run that forced SMB mentor Leo Austria to call two timeouts.
Unperturbed by the full court defense of the Aces, the Beermen pulled out with their own 9-2 blast which proved enough to put away the game from Alaska as SMB regained double-digit lead, 84-72, with only 4:48 minutes left in the game.
It was an uphill battle for the Beermen who missed their bigman Jun Mar Fajardo in the first four games of the series due to injury he sustained in the semifinals series against Rain or Shine.
After winning Game 4 via an overtime 114-110 win, the Beermen came out with another overtime 86-73 in Game 5 this time with Fajardo around.
Fajardo was still struggling but the Beermen still managed to force Game 7 via convincing 100-89 victory in Game 6 and entered the final game of the series with tons of momentum that game the nearly lopsided win.
”I told earlier to my team that miracle is just around the corner after we won Game 6. I would like to thank the team management, the players and the fans for not losing their hopes. You’re part of the history,” said SMB headcoach Leo Austria.
Fajardo scored 21 points but it was Chris Ross who stole the limelight with his own 21 points to be adjudged as the Most Value Player of the championship series.
Chris Banchero spearheaded the Aces’ last ditch rally to cut again the lead to five, 94-89, but with only seconds left in the series.
Banchero led the Aces with 21 points while Calvin Abueva added 16 points and nine rebounds.
SAN MIGUEL 96 – Fajardo 21, Ross 21, Lassiter 15, Santos 13, Cabagnot 8, De Ocampo 7, Tubid 7, Espinas 2, Lutz 2, Heruela 0.
ALASKA 89 – Banchero 21, Abueva 16, Baguio 10, Casio 8, Exciminiano 8, Hontiveros 6, Baclao 4, Jazul 4, Thoss 4, Dela Rosa 3, Manuel 3, Dela Cruz 2, Eman 0, Menk 0.
Quarters: 22-16, 43-38, 68-51, 96-89. Jelly F. Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com