San Miguel successfully reclaimed the throne it once sat on for half a decade as it blew out a battered TNT in Game Seven of the Finals, 119-97, to rule the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen exploded for 35 points in the final period, the first 17 of which they fired in consecutive fashion to suck the life out of the Tropang Giga following a see-saw battle that ensued in the first three quarters.
That run gave them a 101-89 lead with 7:20 left, and momentum shifted their way since that the game’s last few minutes practically turned into a celebration for the pro-SMB fans that formed part of the 15,195-strong inside.
SMB annexed its 10th All-Filipino championship, further growing the league’s record for the most number of titles to 28.
“I cannot imagine that we will win another championship,” said head coach Leo Austria, who won his ninth championship. “We’re struggling pagdating sa playoffs. Alam niyo naman, the semifinals, it’s gone into a seventh game.”
“And against Talk ‘N Text, we’re down 3-2, and then we’re lucky to force it to a Game Seven. But, I think they gave us a chance to play in the Game 7. I know na our players are really determined to win the game,” he added.
June Mar Fajardo was adjudged as the Finals MVP for the fourth time in his career as he finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds in an outing that saw him nail a step-back trey late to give them their biggest lead at 25.
CJ Perez top-scored for San Miguel with 25 points, alongside seven assists, four rebounds, a steal, and a block in an all-around performance as he was one of the six players who won their first-ever PBA championship.
“It’s a great motivation for them, dahil alam nila, ang player ‘pag nanalo ng championship, ayaw na nilang ibigay ‘yan eh. Gusto nila, laging mananalo. So ‘yung passion nila to win a championship, ‘yung attitude, andoon,” Austria said.
Vic Manuel produced 16 points. Marcio Lassiter had 15 points, Mo Tautuaa made 13 points and seven rebounds, while Chris Ross and Simon Enciso fired 12 markers each as seven Beermen finished in double figures.
“The coaching staff and the management, they know how to win a championship. And, we’re lucky the players realized na, I think this is the way. That’s why San Miguel is really successful,” Austria said.
San Miguel put to waste the all-out performance of Jayson Castro, who carried TNT with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
The decorated playmaker tried to will a team that was without Chot Reyes due to health and safety protocols and later on Poy Erram, who was ejected with 55 seconds left in the first half following an F2 on Tautuaa.
Castro, playing through a sprained ankle and a hurt shoulder, scored 19 of his points in the third quarter, where he powered the Tropang Giga’s 34-point explosion to take an 89-84 lead entering the fourth quarter.
But they went cold and scored just a total of eight points in the final period as they fell to the hot shooting of their corporate rivals.
San Miguel 119 – Perez 25, Fajardo 19, Manuel 16, Lassiter 15, Tautuaa 13, Ross 12, Enciso 12, Cruz 4, Brondial 3, Faundo 0, Zamar 0, Pessumal 0, Canete 0.
TNT 97 – Castro 32, M.Williams 22, Pogoy 16, Rosario 11, Erram 7, K.Williams 6, Marcelo 3, Montalbo 0, Alejandro 0, Ganuelas- Rosser 0.
Quarterscores: 29-31, 66-55, 84-89, 119-97.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.