San Miguel gets last laugh vs Phoenix to reach finals

MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel advanced to the PBA Philippine Cup finals for a franchise record fifth straight time after closing out Phoenix in 5 games of their best-of-seven semifinals series. 

The Beermen got the last laugh over the No. 1 Fuel Masters despite squandering an enormous double-digit lead as they hacked out a 105-94 win in Game 5 at the Cuneta Astrodome on Thursday, April 25.

It looked like San Miguel was in for an easy win after enjoying a lead as large as 25 points but Phoenix fought tooth and nail to shave its deficit to 4 points off a Matthew Wright layup with 2:30 minutes left, 94-98.

However, the Beermen displayed championship experience in the endgame by going on an unanswered 7-0 run – sparked by a Terrence Romeo jumper – to wrap up the series. 

Chris Ross caught fire from deep for San Miguel with 24 points off 5 triples with 6 steals and 4 assists, while Alex Cabagnot added 22 points spiked by 5 treys to go with 7 assists and 4 rebounds.

June Mar Fajardo frolicked in the paint with 17 points and 16 rebounds in the win, and Arwind Santos had 12 points and 11 rebounds. 

Romeo – who will be playing in his first PBA finals – put up 10 points, and most importantly, knocked down the shot that changed the complexion of the game in crunchtime. 

Back-to-back Von Pessumal triples gave the Beermen a 28-18 lead – their first double-digit advantage – and they cruised since then as they stretched that to 80-55 in the 3rd quarter 

But the Fuel Masters did not go down without a fight in the final frame behind LA Revilla and Matthew Wright, who knocked down a triple and a layup, respectively, that made it a six-point game, 90-96. 

Still, it was San Miguel who came out victorious thanks to Romeo and clutch free throw shooting from Cabagnot and Fajardo. 

Wright finished with 20 points and 2 steals, Justin Chua had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Revilla saw his best game of the series of 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists go down the drain.

Calvin Abueva, who churned out double-double performances for Phoenix in the first 4 games, was limited to 1 point and 10 rebounds before he was ejected with less than a minute left. 

The Beermen await the winner of the series between Magnolia and Rain or Shine. –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.