Defending champion San Miguel Beer showed Alaska the heart of a true champion Wednesday night by beating the latter 86-73 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Forward Arwind Santos posted 22 points via 8-of-18 shooting in the field plus 16 rebounds and four blocks.
The 6’10 June Mar Fajardo, returning from injury, finished with 13 points while playmaker Alex Cabagnot contributed 12 points for the Beermen.
Guard Marcio Lassiter scored 11 points while Chris Ross and Gabby Espinas notched eight points each also for San Miguel Beer.
Power forward Vic Manuel, who averaged 19.8 points and eight rebounds in four games of the championship series, led Alaska with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Alaska won the first three games of the series before San Miguel Beer bounced back on Sunday with a 110-104 overtime win in Game 4.
The Aces are still leading the series 3-2.
Game 6 was set on Friday at the same venue.
San Miguel Beer posted an early 15-8 lead behind Chris Lutz’s 3-of-3 shooting in the field as Santos and Yancy De Ocampo contributed five and four points, respectively.
Alaska, through Manuel’s seven points managed to narrow the gap, 23-20, after the first period.
Fajardo, who missed the first four games of the series because of a left knee injury, entered the game with a few minutes left before the first quarter ends. He scored six points via 2-of-3 shooting in the field plus two free throws in five minutes of action during the first half.
Alaska fought impressively to bring the score to 36-all at halftime. Manuel, Abueva and Banchero joined forces in the second period for a 16 points output in that quarter.
The Aces kept their composure attempting to penetrate the Beermen’s defense in the third canto. Guard RJ Jazul stepped up in the third frame scoring back-to-back three-point baskets to give Alaska a 55-52 advantage at the start of fourth period.
San Miguel Beer initiated a 12-0 blitz in the early part of the payoff period to post a seven-point advantage, 62-55.
But the Aces answered with a 9-2 run capped by Manuel’s basket and another trey from Jazul brings the score to 64-all before the last two-minute mark.
Cabagnot scored a three-pointer in the last 53 seconds to give San Miguel Beer a 67-64 lead but Dondon Hontiveros retaliated with his own three-point shot with 38 seconds left to tie the game at 67-all.
Both teams failed to score at the end of regulation sending the game to overtime.
San Miguel Beer opened the five-minute extension period with aggressive play to grab the lead 74-67. The Beermen, through crafty play, managed to keep the Aces scoreless in the entire overtime period.
The PBA paid tribute during the halftime break to basketball legend Caloy Loyzaga who passed away on Wednesday. Loyzaga earned the moniker “The Big Difference” during his heydays as a cager.