San Miguel closes the series, wins 2017 All Filipino Cup

MANILA, Philippines – It’s all over! The San Miguel Beermen won the All Filipino Cup perpetual trophy after beating Ginebra 4 series to 1 despite of Barangay’s scary run in the 4th quarter. SMB retains its All Filipino Cup title on March 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

San Miguel closes the series, wins 2017 All Filipino Cup

Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings knew that they had everything to lose as they entered Game number 5 having a 3-1 disadvantage against their sister-team-rivals San Miguel Beermen. With no more tomorrow left for them, time is of the essence for Coach Tim Cone and his gang. They welcomed Coach Leo Austria and the rest of the Beermen with a 5-0 scoring Blitz.

San Miguel on the other hand, didn’t want to give their counterparts a chance to live for one more day so they themselves pushed the pedals to the max for their own scoring momentum and took the lead 13-9 with 6 more minutes remaining in the opening period.

Japeth Aguilar owned the hard court and tallied an early 13 point markers in the 1st quarter alone. However, the usual SMB go-to-guys spearheaded by Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter continued to sizzle hot from the outside to oppose Aguilar’s monstrous performance.

After the first 12 minutes, San Miguel kept their distance from Ginebra 27-21.

Despite of the very productive 1st quarter, Arwind Santos had already committed 2 personal fouls. To prevent him from getting to further trouble, Coach Austria tapped Ronald Tubid to replace him. Tubid just like Santos, sniped from the three point lane to keep their margin. Another super sub, Gabby Espinas provided more muscle under the rim and kept Japeth Aguilar away from his turf.

Ginebra Legend Robert Jaworski arrived at the venue mid of the 2nd period to cheer for his team. His presence ignited the entire Barangay as well as the players on field. Out of nowhere, combo guards Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson fired from downtown to cut the lead to just one.

Just like what Bal David, another Ginebra Great said, if there’s any team who can bounce back from 1-3 deficit, that would be Ginebra. “Diyan sila magaling”, uttered by David in an interview after game number 2.

San Miguel’s own backcourt tandem Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot did the damage to Ginebra to ice the hot shooting hands of Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson and preserved their first double-digit, 51-41 lead at the end of the first half.

San Miguel started the 3rd quarter sloppily. It was at the 8th minute mark when Arwind Santos finally shot a basket. On the other end of the floor, it was Joe Devance who had exerted the most effort in order to close the gap despite of his foot injury.

Japeth Aguilar rocked the crowd with a double-handed follow-up dunk off Joe Devance’s missed jumper. With that slam, Ginebra managed to alter the lead to just 5 points, 56-41. But not for long, it only took San Miguel few seconds to bring their lead back to 10 courtesy of Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos.

Turnovers after turnovers committed by the Beermen paved a big way for Ginebra to shorten the gap to just 2 points, 63-61 as the penultimate quarter closed.

June Mar Fajardo who was almost silent in the first three quarters opened the final period with a layup and one that came from a Chris Ross-steal followed by a Mario Lassiter’s mid-range jumper to escalate the lead back to 6. Sol Mercado however, retaliated with a long bomb and shot a pair of foul shots to cut the lead to just a half-shot, 70-69. Truly, Mercado was the man of the moment as he had already bagged 20 big points with over 6 minutes left in the ball game.

The scoring pattern in the fourth continued. Whenever Ginebra pulled of a comeback, San Miguel immediately fired back to keep the lead. There were plenty of instances in this game where Ginebra lessened the margin to just two and even just a point, but lo and behold San Miguel made its runs to widen the gap again.

At the final 2-minutes, Ginebra once again, cut the lead to just 1. But June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot came to the rescue for the Beermen, 87-83.

Ginebra had the chance to bring down the lead to just 1 but Japeth Aguilar was cleanly blocked by Arwind Santos at the three point line and converted the loose ball to a slam dunk.

Balloons and confetti fell down from the high ceilings of Araneta down to the center court as the clock expired that signified a back-to-back All Filipino Cup Championships for the San Miguel Beermen. SMB closed the series 4-1 to the tune of 91-86 convincing win.

With the win, San Miguel celebrated its 23rd titles and Coach Leo Austria made his 4th ring in 7 conferences under the San Miguel management while Chris Ross won the Finals MVP for the 2nd straight year.

The PBA will give a month a break to all teams before the Commisioner’s Cup begins. Ginebra is expected to bounce back after re-signing prolific import Justin Brownlee who helped them win its Championship last conference after 8 long years. San Miguel however has yet to decide on their reinforcement.

From, congratulations to San Miguel Beermen and kudos to Brarangay Ginebra San Miguel for giving a good fight!

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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