By Cip D.C. Cabrera
After blasting TNT Tropang Giga, 119-97, San Miguel Beer regained the PBA All-Filipino title which it last held in 2019. (Photo courtesy of BusinessWorld Online)
QUEZON CITY, Metro Manila — Riding on the crest of a big win in Game 6 that reset their best-of-seven title series at 3-3, San Miguel Beer (SMB) sustained its onslaught to prevail anew over Talk ‘n’ Text (TNT) Tropang Giga when it mattered most and end a three-year drought and dethroning TNT in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)’s Philippine Cup conference.
In reclaiming the All-Filipino crown, the Beermen reminisced its record five straight championships that paved the way for SMB to be hailed one of the winningest teams in the history of the country’s premier professional league.
It was dominant victory for San Miguel as it pummeled Tropang Giga with a 119-97 win in the do-or-die Game 7 at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night, September 4.
Power forward Christian Jaymar ‘CJ’ Perez and Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) June Mar Fajardo led the Beermen in a blistering 35-5 start in the fourth quarter to capture a record-extending 28th PBA championship and regain its status as the best All-Filipino squad.
But it was no easy conquest for SMB as TNT seized an 89-84 lead behind the third-quarter heroics of returning veteran shooter Jayson Castro before Perez ignited the run that gave to San Miguel the breaks to overcome the odds and score a commanding 119-94 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the final canto of the game.
Perez scored 7 of his team-high 25 points during that stretch before Chris Ross put on the finishing touches with a bunch of three-pointers that took the life out of Tropang Giga.
Fajardo finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks, while Ross drilled in 12 markers more—all on triples—to carry the Beermen in recapturing the Philippine Cup trophy they won from 2015 to 2019.
“I did not imagine that we would win another championship in spite of us struggling in the playoffs,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria enthused.
Though optimistic about his wards ability to fight and win, Austria knew it wasn’t going to be ‘a walk-in-the-park’ for SMB as they went seven games with Meralco in the semifinals and trailed TNT 2-3 in the finals.
San Miguel (119)
Perez 25, Fajardo 19, Manuel 16, Lassiter 15, Tautuaa 13, Ross 12, Enciso 12, Cruz 4, Brondial 3, Canete 0, Faundo 0, Pessumal 0, Zamar 0.
Castro 32, M. Williams 22, Pogoy 16, Rosario 11, Erram 7, K. Williams 6, Marcelo 3, Montalbo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Reyes 0, Alejandro 0.
Quarters: 29-31, 66-55, 84-89, 119-97