Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang – How San Miguel’s win was much bigger than the Commissioner’s Cup title

San Miguel 115 – TNT 91, San Miguel wins the series 4-2

Just a day before Game 6 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, Alex Cabagnot was out for karaoke night.

We’ve all been to one, right? We all know those thick black clearbooks that hold thousands of songs. Out of all the tracks he could’ve sung, the Crunchman posted an Instgram story of him singing a song I never thought I’d ever hear from his mouth – Freestyle’s Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang.

Alex moved to the Philippines in 2005, the same year that the track made it to the top of local charts. He couldn’t escape it. He heard it everywhere he went. Eventually, it became something that helped him transition to his new home.

“It was actually how I learned how to speak in Tagalog,” Cabagnot explained. “It’s the only Tagalog song I can sing.”

Twelve years after that move to Manila, around 24 hours after his Instagram story, Alex held up his first Finals MVP trophy in the middle of a championship celebration.

And in that moment, for Alex and his San Miguel Beermen, the phrase ‘bakit ngayon ka lang’ felt so fitting.

There’s no argument about Cabagnot being one of the PBA’s top players. He’s at his peak right now but he has been on the upper echelon for quite some time.

However, he plays for a team that’s loaded with talent. They even have the three-time MVP on their squad. Not that he cared so much, but it was difficult for Alex to squeeze in and get some individual merch.

Earlier in the Finals, the Best Player of the Conference award was given out. Alex led the race from the elimination round until late in the playoffs. But his teammate Chris Ross caught up and was eventually given the honor.

Cabagnot didn’t mind. He was one of Ross’ closest friends on the team. He was genuinely happy for his dude. And when it was Alex’s turn to be named the Finals MVP, Chris and the rest of the Beermen celebrated the victory with him. They knew it was finally Alex’s time.

Bigger than Cabagnot, the championship was also extra sweet for the entire San Miguel Beermen.

Since Coach Leo Austria took over in 2014, it was the fifth time that the Beermen stood on the championship podium. But it was only their first Commissioner’s Cup title in that period.

This was the one conference that has continuously escaped them over the past two seasons. In 2015, they had a tragic meltdown that led to an early exit. They didn’t even make it to the playoffs. In 2016, they looked good until some drama developed in the playoffs, resulting to their semifinals downfall against Rain or Shine.

This year, Coach Leo and his boys finally got it done. And along with the franchise’s first Commissioner’s Cup title in 17 years, they also won their import Charles Rhodes his very first championship in his professional career.

When you’re lucky, you become a champion in your first few years as a pro. Rhodes wasn’t. He’s been playing professionally since 2008. He’s already 32 years old. The guy has travelled the world – Latvia, Korea, Spain and Turkey – only to find his first chip in the Philippines.

“For this to happen in the Philippines, I’m at a loss for words,” Rhodes said as he took all of it in after game six. “I came to a parade on my first day here. I’m gonna be having my own parade soon.”

It took Alex Cabagnot 12 years in the league before winning his first Finals MVP.

It took Charles Rhodes nine years and five countries before winning his first title in the professional ranks.

It took Coach Leo Austria and the San Miguel Beermen three years before they were finally able to take home the Commissioner’s Cup.

‘Bakit ngayon ka lang?’ they must’ve asked.

But with the confetti and the balloons falling inside The Big Dome, with the flood of beer on the floor of their dugout, with another trophy to display on the San Miguel office, the Beermen no longer need answers.

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