San Miguel wins first All-Filipino title since 2001
San Miguel weathered an Alaska storm one last time and held on in the fourth quarter to defeat the gallant Alaska Aces, 80-78, in game 7 and win the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup championship on Wednesday, January 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“For me this is unbelievable,” said head coach Leo Austria, won his first PBA title in only his first conference as head coach. “I knew from the start it’s really hard to beat Alaska."
San Miguel, who swept Talk 'N Text in the semifinals, won their first all-Filipino championship since 2001 and their 20th title overall for the franchise.
“I think we were fortunate in the endgame because we were able to recover from their big rallies,” Austria added.
The top-seeded Beermen very nearly blew their chance for a title after they had a 23-point meltdown in the second half, which has been the trend of the best-of-7 series.
Alaska went on an 11-0 run midway in the payoff period to wrest control of the game on a Calvin Abueva jumper, 74-68, with 4:20 left to play.
But San Miguel dodged a bullet this time around as they kept their cool despite being down by 6 with under two minutes remaining.
Arwind Santos, who sizzled for 3 treys in the first quarter alone, saved the day nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with 43.7 ticks left to put the Beermen by a hair, 79-78.
Alaska, however, had only empty possessions as Santos split from the free throw line to notch the final tally.
The 33-year old Santos, who was the lone bright spot for San Miguel and did not give up in the thick of Alaska's rally, led all Beermen with 22 points and 12 rebounds, playing for nearly 47 minutes.
For his efforts and resilience, Santos was named Finals MVP with averages of 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals throughout the Finals.
The athletic forward from Pampanga and 2013 PBA MVP was also the Finals MVP in San Miguel's last title in the 2011 Governors' Cup, then as the Petron Blaze Boosters.
Reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo finished with 21 points and 25 rebounds, the first 20-20 performance by a local in a game 7 and in the Finals, per PBA Head Statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
Fajardo, despite visibly panting as he played for close to 45 minutes, bounced back from his conference low 9-point performance in game 6.
Ronald Tubid, who made a blunder with 6.4 seconds remaining by calling a timeout when San Miguel had none left, contributed 12 markers. While Chris Lutz and Alex Cabagnot added 10 points apiece.
Alaska, on the other hand, failed to claim what could have been their 15th franchise title in a close series that was decided down to the final second.
Abueva, who carried the Aces on his back in the second half whether by scoring or his energy, topscored with 23 points along with 15 rebounds. He dropped 13 markers in the third frame.
Big man Sonny Thoss had 15 points and only a single board, while Cyrus Baguio registered 11 points.
JVee Casio, who had good look on a potential championship-clinching three-pointer as time expired, had just 7 points to end a lackluster Finals series performance for him.
Alaska controlled points in the paint, 52-22, despite a rebounding disadvantage of 38-52. But going 10-of-25 from the free throw line was crucial to their defeat.
SAN MIGUEL (80) - Santos 22, Fajardo 21, Tubid 12, Lutz 10, Cabagnot 10, Lassiter 5, Maierhofer 0, Ross 0, Kramer 0, Omolon 0, Pascual 0, Fortuna 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0.
ALASKA (78) - Abueva 23, Thoss 15, Baguio 11, Casio 7, Banchero 6, Manuel 4, Hontiveros 4, Jazul 4, Exciminiano 2, Menk 2, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Dela Cruz 0, Espinas 0.
Quartercores: 21-12, 48-27, 62-59, 80-78
PBA 2015 Philippine Cup Finals:
Game 1: Alaska mounts massive comeback for game 1 OT win
Game 2: San Miguel wins physical battle over Alaska to tie finals at 1-1
Game 3: Alaska mounts comeback anew, stuns San Miguel for 2-1 lead
Game 4: San Miguel Beer holds on to double-digit lead to level Finals
Game 5: San Miguel Beer downs Alaska in game 5 to take Finals control
Game 6: Alaska Aces stay live, defeat San Miguel Beer to force Game 7