• SMB completes three-peat

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    Defending champion San Miguel Beer outplayed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Beer, 91-85, in Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup best-of-seven championship series to capture its third-straight All-Filipino Cup crown on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

    Five-time Best Player of the Conference awardee June Mar Fajardo sizzled with 21 points, while Arwind Santos piled up 21 points on top of eight rebounds to hand the Beermen their seventh All-Filipino Cup crown and 23rd overall since joining the league in 1975.

    MVP move! Reigning Most Valuable Player and Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo goes for a layup against Barangay Ginebra’s Joe Devance during the PBA Philippine Cup finals on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. RUSSELL PALMA

    Alex Cabagnot added 18 points, while playmaker Chris Ross tallied an all-around performance of 12 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and six steals. Guard Marcio Lassiter also had 12 points also for San Miguel Beer.

    Japeth Aguilar led Ginebra with 26 points and 16 rebounds, while Solomon Mercado and Joe Devance had 20 points apiece also for the Gin Kings.

    Fajardo, the league’s three-time Most Valuable Player, and the 6’4 Santos combined for 16 points in the opening period that provided the Beermen a 27-21 cushion at the start of second frame. They were able to increase their lead even at the end of second quarter putting them on a 51-41 advantage at halftime.

    Aguilar scored a jumper to trim down the deficit to 39-41 with still 3:49 to go in second period. But a blitzing 10-2 attack in the 3:25 mark of second quarter highlighted by the three-pointer of Ross and Cabagnot allowed San Miguel Beer to widen up its lead in double-digit after the first two quarters.

    Aguilar and De Vance had already 15 and 12 points, respectively, at halftime.

    It was another good start for the Beermen as they shot 7-of-13 from the three-point zone while the Gin Kings only registered 3-of-10 from beyond the arc. Ginebra out-rebounded San Miguel Beer at halftime, 25-14, but could only get an 11-5 second chance points and 18 points inside the paint.

    Ginebra’s never-say-die attitude took over early in the second with Aguilar and Devance merging for 12 points to trim the deficit within 61-63 after the third period. The Gin Kings outscored the Beermen in third period, 20-12.

    They even came closer within 69-70 with still 8:39 to go in the last quarter after Mercado hit a triple and sank two free throws.

    But Lassiter, Cabagnot, Santos, Ross and Fajardo joined forces down the stretch to bring San Miguel Beer’s advantage to 81-72 off Santos’ lay-up with 5:16 to go despite Ginebra’s huge comeback late in the fourth quarter.

    The Gin Kings transformed that Beermen’s nine-point lead in the last five-minute mark to just 83-84 with only 2:28 remaining after Ginebra’s 11-3 run capped by Tenorio’s triple. The Beermen, however, had enough firepower left in crunch time to spoil a comeback by the Gin Kings.

    San Miguel Beer won Game 1 with a 109-82 decision before Ginebra tied the series in Game 2 with a dramatic 124-118 overtime win in Lucena City.

    But the Beermen won back-to-back games – a 99-88 victory in Game 3 and 94-85 triumph in Game 4 – before clinching last night’s game at 4-1 in front of 20, 217 crowd.

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