What a game.
The San Miguel Beermen came back from a huge double-digit deficit, needing a clutch shot and a final defensive stand to outlast the Magnolia Hotshots, 72-71. The Beermen escaped Game 7 with a win to take home their fifth straight Philippine Cup Championship. They’re the fist team in PBA history to win five straight titles in the Philippine Cup.
June Mar Fajardo also set a historic mark in the game. Limited to just 17 points and forced to nine turnovers, the Kraken went to work on the boards to help his team win. He set the local record for most rebounds in a single game, hauling down 31 rebounds in Game 7. Alex Cabagnot led the Beermen in scoring with 18 points, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Arwind Santos added 17 points and 11 rebounds to help San Miguel. Ian Sangalang started off on fire but tapered off to finish with 18 points.
The Beermen started off on fire, scoring the first seven points of the game. Unfortunately, the quickly ran out of ammo. San Miguel’s scoring disappeared as Magnolia used their speed and length to disrupt the Beermen’s offense. They blitzed Fajardo once he got the ball in the paint, forcing several turnovers and rushed shots.
The Hotshots limited San Miguel to just five points in the second quarter, tying the lowest score in a quarter in PBA Finals history. Magnolia forced San Miguel to commit 18 turnovers in the first half, with their defense forcing bad passes and collecting steals. The Hotshots took a 13-point lead at the half. Mark Barroca added on to the Hotshots advantage with five straight points to open the third period, increasing his team’s lead to 17.
With the title slipping away, San Miguel gave Magnolia a taste of their own medicine. They amped up the pressure on the Magnolia ball handlers, harassing them as soon as they crossed half court. The Beermen fought through the high ball screens and made sure that they got a hand up on every Hotshot attempt.
Marcio Lassiter, Santos and Fajardo combined for a quick 7-0 blast to cut the deficit down to a more manageable 10 points. From there, the Beermen slowly chipped away at the lead. They prevented Magnolia from buildin another big double-digit advantage, staying within striking distance with key hits from their starters.
San Miguel made their big move in the final period. They opened the quarter on a 12-3 run behind big baskets from Chris Ross, Cabganot and Santos. The Beermen took a one-point lead midway through the fourth period. The game turned into a back-and-forth slugfest from that point on.
Alex Cabagnot lived up to his Crunchman name in the final minutes of the series. Down by one after a Rafi Reavis make inside, Cabagnot drilled a step-back jumper to give the Beermen the lead back. Sangalang and Fajardo traded baskets putting the Hotshots up by one in the final two minutes of the game. That’s when Cabagnot struck again. With the shot clock running down, Cabagnot got the ball on the right wing and drove baseline. He bodied up Paul Lee and lofted a lefty fade away jumper that swished in, giving the Beermen the lead with less than a minute on the clock.
The Beermen had one final defensive stand in the final seconds of the game. They smothered Lee on his drive to the basket. They were able to defend Jio Jalalon’s close attempt after Lee’s shovel pass, forcing a miss. Fajardo was fouled and he missed both free throws but Santos and Lassiter were able to slow down Lee in the back court forcing a desperation heave that was way off.
Fajardo was named Finals MVP with a monster performance on both ends. He nearly finished with a 20-20 average in seven games. He scored 22.9 points, grabbed 19.1 rebounds and blocked 1.9 shots in the series.