History has been made
June Mar Fajardo’s monstrous 42-point, 20-rebound outing helped the San Miguel Beermen thwart the Magnolia Hotshots in two overtimes, 108-99, to win their fourth straight Philippine Cup title Friday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Fajardo was pivotal in the Beermen’s comeback from 23 points down in the third, and he also took it upon himself in the second OT, as he scored eight to steady his team’s ship and steer them to the historic victory.
This is San Miguel’s eighth All-Filipino crown, and 25th championship overall. They have achieved yet another milestone with the win, as they became the very first team in the league to win four straight Philippine Cup titles.
“I really don’t know what to say,” said Beermen head coach Leo Austria, who is now a perfect 6-for-6 in the Finals. “I’m overwhelmed with what happened in this fifth game, dahil we thought na we will extend the series to Game Six.
“But the players didn’t give up eh. And when we caught up, the team realized na it is possible. And talagang nangyari, and I have to give credit to all the players dahil they keep on supporting each other,” he admitted. “They understand what’s happening in the game, and we’re able to come back.”
Everyone in the stands believed that the series would go to a Game Six on Sunday, after the Hotshots started strong with a 15-4 opening and even enjoyed a lead as high as 23, 71-48, after Kyle Pascual’s basket with 4:37 left in the third.
But the cushion deflated in the next period.
With their Fab Five on the floor, the Beermen displayed their true form and zoomed to a 13-0 blitz — punctuated by Fajardo’s perfect shots from the foul line — to turn a 66-82 deficit to just three, 79-82, with 3:37 remaining.
Rafi Reavis stopped Magnolia’s bleeding with a baseline jumper with 2:38 to go, and Ian Sangalang’s bucket in response to Fajardo’s basket on the other end sent the Hotshots to a favorable 86-81 lead with 1:05 on the clock.
But Magnolia just couldn’t find ways to restrain the opposition. Fajardo made a stab underneath, and Arwind Santos’ booming three-pointer from the wing finally allowed the Beermen to tie things up at 86 with 16.5 ticks to go.
Marcio Lassiter had a chance to win it for San Miguel, but his off-balanced, corner triple off a steal in the closing seconds missed, thus sending Game Five into an extra time.
The Hotshots had the upper hand in the first OT, thanks to Rome Dela Rosa’s triple that put them up 93-90 and his stop on Chris Ross. Guard Jio Jalalon split his freebies later on to give Magnolia a 94-92 lead in the 1:03 mark.
Fajardo, again, tied it at 94-all with a tip-in of his own miss, and Santos’s jump ball violation plus Magnolia forward Aldrech Ramos’ missed triple from the left corner paved the way for another five minutes of gametime.
San Miguel then made sure that the 2OT would be the last period they had to play. Fajardo led a 7-0 run en route to a 101-94 lead — more than enough to lay the Hotshots down and gain cruise control towards the All-Filipino title.
“Maybe this is because of the experience we had,” added Austria on the win. “Sabi ko nga kanina, na-develop ang character, the winning attitude, and now they have the heart of a champion, na hindi sila basta-basta magpapatalo.”
Santos finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds for San Miguel. Lassiter, the most consistent cog in the series, chipped in 16 markers on 33.3 percent shooting.
Ross finished with a triple-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. The two-time Finals Most Valuable Player was just two steals away from posting the first-ever quadruple-double in the league’s rich history.
Paul Lee, despite going scoreless in the extra periods and committing a total of seven turnovers, still produced 21 points, 11 rebounds, and four dimes to lead the Hotshots, who have yet to taste a championship since 2014.
Dela Rosa finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. Reavis supplied 13 points, 12 caroms, and four blocks; Mark Barroca had 12 markers, seven boards, and eight dimes; and Ian Sangalang had 11 points but committed eight turnovers. Sophomore Jio Jalalon had himself an all-around game with five markers, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
San Miguel 108 – Fajardo 42, Santos 23, Lassiter 16, Ross 13, Cabagnot 7, Heruela 3, Rosser 2, Espinas 2.
Magnolia 99 – Lee 21, Dela Rosa 19, Reavis 13, Barroca 12, Sangalang 11, Ramos 8, Gamalinda 6, Jalalon 5, Pascual 2, Brondial 2.
Quarterscores: 19-21, 37-53, 60-74, 86-86, 94-94, 108-99.