Safe to say, Alex Cabagnot did not make much noise for the majority of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
After finishing with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting back in Game One – which his San Miguel lost – Cabagnot seemingly lost his touch in the next five games. He only shot a total of 26 percent, including a 1-of-12 clip in Game Six.
But come the all-important Game Seven on Wednesday night, the guard emerged as the hero the Beermen needed.
After helping his side fight back from a deep 17-point deficit, the 36-year-old then sank a cold-blooded fade-away jumper all over Magnolia Hotshots’ defense with 57.2 seconds left to play to give the Beermen a 72-71 point lead.
San Miguel kept that score all the way until the final buzzer. They also extended their dynasty in the All-Filipino setting for the fifth straight year – a feat that no one else in the league has ever achieved.
Cabagnot finished with 18 points on 42-percent shooting along with three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. But as big as his shot was – since it basically gave his side the historic feat – Cabagnot lauded their defense in the endgame.
San Miguel defended Jio Jalalon well from point-blank range to make him miss what would have been an easy deuce. They then prevented the Hotshots from setting up a decent shot in the final 4.8 seconds to secure the win.
“We made some defensive stops with our best defensive lineup in there.
“And in the championship, defense wins games and the last two possessions, we saw it in the last two possessions we had defensively,” said Cabagnot.
The 14-year veteran has now collected his eighth PBA championship. And for Cabagnot, this is one of the hardest title bouts he had gone through.
“It has to be one of them. Out of eight probably it’s one of the toughest,” he said. “We came back from seventeen down. Just the situation: being down big tapos our shots weren’t going in, tapos we were making careless turnovers.
“So we had to just regroup, stay positive, and just continue playing hard and sticking with the game plan.”
This batch of Beermen has additionally made a case of being the best All-Filipino crew ever. But if there will be worries that they might settle, Cabagnot said their hunger to win will never fade.
“It’s always there naman. I think that’s the curse of winning. The more you win, the more you wanna feel it. The more you don’t want to feel losing. So when people say how do we keep the hunger, I think if you’ve won anything, you wanna continue winning,” said Cabagnot.
“You don’t wanna feel. It’s a tough defeat when we lost to Ginebra in the second conference last year (2018 Commissioner’s Cup Finals). We felt it, we stepped it up. We just had to do due diligence and make things happen.”
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