San Miguel wins 2018 PBA All Filipino Cup Title

MANILA, Philippines - Coach Leo Austria said in an interview prior to PBA Philippine Cup Finals Game 5 that he smells his team’s victory. True to his words, the San Miguel Beermen eliminated Magnolia Hotshots in double overtime, 108-99 on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

San Miguel wins 2018 PBA All Filipino Cup Title
SMB made an epic comeback to win the All Filipino Cup Title for the 4th straight time | Photo Credit: PBA on Twitter

With everything to lose and in a do-or-die situation, the Magnolia Hotshots started game number 5 in high pitch and went ahead of their rivals, San Miguel Beermen for an early 7-2 lead in the first.

Magnolia, led by Paul Lee added 8 more markers after SMB Coach Leo Austria’s timeout.

Under 3 minutes of the opener, Hotshots had the 9-point, 17-8 advantage but failed to maintained it as the Beermen managed to size it down to just 2 at the end of the quarter. Arwind Santos spearheaded SMB’s comeback run aided by Marcio Lassiter.

Worried about San Miguel’s sudden resurgence and ability to turn the tides, Coach Chito Victolero instructed his wards to continue to find the open shots and pull the trigger. In just 2 minutes after the 2nd period began, Magnolia ramped-up its lead to 11.

In contrast to their 1st quarter performance, Magnolia’s defense on the entire San Miguel team intensified and held onto its double-figured margin until the end of the 1st half, 53-37.

Before the half ended, couple of technical fouls were imposed on Arwind Santos and Paul Lee in different events that showed how fierce this game was.

It was a very bad night for San Miguel as Magnolia continued to pour buckets in the 3rd quarter. Despite June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos’ fair contribution, SMB trio guards were playing subpar. Fon an instance, Alex Cabagnot was limited to just 2 points while Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross had 6 and 5 points respectively.

With 4 more minutes left in the third, Hotshots’ lead was at 21, 71-50. Paul Lee and Rome Dela Rosa fired their team up and both in double-digits.

From as high as 21, San Miguel was able to cut it down to 14, 74-60 after the 3rd quarter.

It was the final quarter of game number 5 and still, the usual top gunners of San Miguel were all silent. Coach Leo Austria was tempted to waive the white flag too early as he kept the under-performing Alex Cabagnot on the bench.

Midway of the final push, SMB’s premier point guard Alex Cabagnot checked back in after a long hibernation and delivered. All of a sudden, Magnolia’s lead went down to just 5 and the Hotshots were in danger of being eliminated.

It was really a scary moment for Magnolia as San Miguel knocked on door and tied the game at 86 all with 16 ticks remaining.

Magnolia had the chance to win the game but Jio Jalalon turned the ball over to end the regulation and extended game 5 to overtime.

The extra period was too close to call as both teams traded basket-after-basket and found themselves in 90 all deadlock at the 2:25 mark. It was Rome Dela Rosa who broke the standoff with a three pointer.

Both squads didn’t want to go home and needed another extra 5 minutes to settle things out with the score tied at 94.

June Mar Fajardo broke the ice with a short hook followed by a long bomb from Chris Ross to gain a 5-point advantage.

Magnolia committed a bunch of turnovers in the 2nd overtime that paved the way for San Miguel to increase their lead to half a dozen, 105-99 with 36 seconds remaining in the ballgame.

It was really “The Kraken” who helped his team bounced back from a sloppy presentation. Fajardo, the newly crowned Best Player of the conference showcased 42 humongous points and 20 terrific boards to seal the deal, 108-99 and won this year’s All Filipino Cup Title!

Congratulations Beermen! Fear The Beer indeed!

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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