Sep 04, 2022

Beermen back as champs, nail 10th all-Filipino crown

FORMER PBA Philippine Cup five-peat champ San Miguel Beer is back on the throne, stretching its unprecedented mark as winner of the league's crown jewel to 10 times.

The Beermen reclaimed the all-Filipino diadem as June Mar Fajardo and his teammates beat the TNT Tropang Giga, 119-97, in a winner-take-all Game 7 before a 15,195-strong raucous crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Fajardo and the other SMB top guns ripped TNT apart on a fourth-quarter ambush, thus, crushing the Tropa's title-retention aspiration and marking their return as champs behind the so-called Death Squad II.

The Death Five of Fajardo, CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Vic Manuel themselves made the lethal execution, teaming up in a roaring 17-0 start in the fourth that paved the way for a drive all the way to the championship.

Fajardo collected 19 points, 18 rebounds and five assists and won the Finals MVP award that went with the Best Player of the Conference trophy he snared earlier.

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Perez top scored for the team with 25, with Manuel adding 16, Lassiter 15 and Ross 12. The team also drew double-digit outputs from Moala Tautuaa (13) and Simon Enciso (12) in this decider.

Perez and Manuel were thankful and joyful as they finally tasted a first PBA championship.

For the franchise, it's the 10th in the all-Filipino and 28th overall in their ever-growing championship collections as the league's winningest team.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria mentioned their big boss Ramon S. Ang, sports director Alfrancis Chua, their backers and the players, saying this championship is a product of a great team effort.

"Andyan ang mga players namin, ginawa nyo na naman ako na mukhang magaling (na coach)," said Austria.

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For the record, the Beermen are now 4-0 in Game 7s in title playoffs under Austria.

The multi-champ mentor and the Beermen previously won Game 7 deciders in the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Philippine Cups.

They made it 4-0 in championship winner-take-all tiffs at the expense of the Tropang Giga, with earlier wins in Game 2 (109-100), Game 3 (108-100) and Game 6 (114-96).

"Mission accomplished, champion uli tayo. But credit also goes to TNT, lumaban sila kahit kulang na ng tao," said the SMC sports director.

Already minus coach Chot Reyes who was out due to health and safety protocols, the Tropang Giga also lost key players in the course of Game 7.

Poy Erram was ejected on a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2 late in the second quarter and later Mikey Williams on an injury.

The Tropa struggled with all these, even as Jayson Castro played through an ankle sprain and exploded for 32 points. He narrowly missed a triple-double with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

From a two-point showing in Game 6, Mikey Williams bounced back strong, erupting for 17 just in the opening period. But he went down with an injury in the second half.

And there's no stopping the Beermen fram claiming another Jun Bernardino Trophy. (SB)

The Scores:

San Miguel 119 - Perez 25, Fajardo 19, Manuel 16, Lassiter 15, Tautuaa 13, Ross 12, Enciso 12, Cruz 4, Brondial 3, Faundo 0, Zamar 0, Pessumal 0, Canete 0.

TNT 97 - Castro 32, M.Williams 22, Pogoy 16, Rosario 11, Erram 7, K.Williams 6, Marcelo 3, Montalbo 0, Alejandro 0, Ganuelas- Rosser 0.

Quarters: 29-31, 66-55, 84-89, 119-97