The San Miguel Beermen made history by being the first team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to crawl out of a 3-0 deficit and win the championship by beating the Alaska Aces 96-89 in the deciding Game 7 of the Philippine Cup finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Wednesday.
Playmaker Chris Ross took charge in the crucial match finishing with 21 points via 8-of-13 shooting in the field in addition to four three pointers, five rebounds and five assists.
Ross also won the finals’ Most Valuable Player award.
Besides winning the championship back-to-back, the victory is San Miguel Beer’s 22nd overall title and its sixth Philippine Cup crown since becoming one of the founding members of the league in 1975.
Alaska has 14 overall titles and three Philippine Cup crowns since joining the PBA in 1986.
Center June Mar Fajardo posted 21 points via 9-of-20 shooting in the field plus 15 rebounds.
“I’m thankful to everyone including Alaska. We both deserve this title. I’m thankful to the fans who prayed for us to win the title and for my players who refused to lose,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “As what I’ve said, miracle is just around the corner.”
Guard Marcio Lassiter contributed 15 points on a perfect 10-of-10 shooting in the foul line while Arwind Santos finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds also for the Beermen.
Vic Manuel, who notched 20.8 points and nine points in the finals for the Aces, was limited to only three points because of a back and ankle injury.
Shooting guard Chris Banchero posted 21 points while Calvin Abueva had 16 points and nine rebounds for Alaska.
San Miguel Beer opened the game with a blitzing 10-0 run resulting in an 18-8 lead but Alaska narrowed the gap, 22-16, at the end of first period through a back-to-back triples of Dondon Hontiveros.
San Miguel Beer stretched their lead to 38-28 in the second quarter highlighted by Chris Ross’ back-to-back triples with still 2:33 to go before the halftime break. Alaska managed to reduce the gap at halftime 38-43.
Ross and Ronald Tubid led San Miguel Beer during halftime with 11 points and seven points, respectively.
Despite keeping the lead at halftime, the Beermen suffered 16 turnovers compared to six of the Aces in the first half.
The Beermen took advantage of the sluggish performance of the Aces in the third quarter to post a commanding 21-point advantage, 68-47.
San Miguel Beer sustained its aggressiveness in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Alaska won Game 1 (100-91), Game 2 (83-80) and Game 3 (82-75) to take a commanding early lead in the series, but San Miguel Beer bounced back in the last three games winning Game 4 (110-104), Game 5 (86-73) and Game 6 (100-89).