Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Alaska Aces played as well as they could to not fall into a hole no team has ever fought out of in PBA Finals history.
But when Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Finals went down to the wire, the other team just had the best player on the floor - and that was enough to take victory away from the hands of the Aces and into the San Miguel Beermen’s.
Hitting big shot after another in the fourth period, import Arizona Reid finished with a game-high 41 to go with 12 rebounds in San Miguel’s 96-89 Game 3 victory over Alaska on Wednesday, July 15, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Reid scored 11 of his total output after entering with 8 minutes and 21 seconds left in the final period - each one critical in erasing a slim Alaska lead and eventually putting San Miguel on top on their way to a win.
San Miguel now becomes the 12th team in PBA history to go on top 3-0 in a best-of-7 finals series as they inch closer to attaining their 21st championship in franchise history.
“Sila lahat ang nag trabaho nito,” said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria after the game. “They refused to give up.”
(They all worked for this.)
“Our players refused to give up, refused to lose,” later added the head coach who’s in his first season with San Miguel and one win away from a second career championship.
Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo was limited to just 14 points but grabbed 19 rebounds, while Arwind Santos finished with 8 points and 8 boards, including a crucial block on Alaska point guard JVee Casio late that saved a critical basket from trimming into the Beermen’s lead.
“Maybe yung turning point dito yung chase down ni Arwind,” Austria said. “Very crucial nung sinupalpal niya si Casio. Nakito ko yung character niya and [that] he really wants to win.”
(Maybe the turning point was the chasedown block of Arwind. It was very crucial when he blocked Casio. I saw his character and that he really wants to win.)
Alaska was led by Best Import award winner Romeo Travis, who for a third straight game was outplayed by Reid despite finishing with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Calvin Abueva registered 15 points, while Sonny Thoss spotted 12 markers and 6 boards for the Aces, who were ahead 83-78 when Reid entered in the final quarter.
Reid then scored 8 of San Miguel’s next 10 points - including a contested 3-point attempt and tough layup while getting fouled - to put his club ahead 88-85 with 3:17 remaining in the contest.
After Casio missed a triple to tie the game, Reid nailed another 3-pointer to put San Miguel ahead 91-85 - a shot that proved to be the dagger.
Chris Banchero made a tough layup over two Beermen with 2:08 left to cut the lead to 4, but Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot were able to seal the win for their team at the foul line, while San Miguel’s defense limited Alaska to just two more points.
“I through we did a better job defensively today… [they were] just making plays,” Aces head coach Alex Compton said after the game.
“He,” Compton said about Reid, “made a bunch of baskets down the stretch that were big.”
Compton’s team shot 45% from the floor but only 17% from downtown, and went 6-of-17 from the foul line, to which the head commented: “that one hurts for sure.”
The Aces committed just 6 turnovers and scored 17 off San Miguel’s 20, as well as getting more output from their bench, 42-12. But Reid’s individual brilliance in the fourth period - especially his ability to hit important shots at the most timely instances - just proved too tough a task to overcome.
The Beermen shot 52% from the field, and dominated the rebounding battle 58-36.
“They’ve been winning the grind-it-out time of the games and they had 22 more rebounds than us - part of that is because we’re missing more shots than them,” said Compton.
Game 4 is on Friday, July 17, with Alaska facing a task that has proven insurmountable in league history.
“We’ll be out there playing. Somebody had to be the first one to walk on the moon. Somebody had to be the first at everything,” Compton said about his team’s chances.
“We’re going to play. We’re going to go at it. And it should be, that if San Miguel is to win this series, they had to earn it. We’re not going to roll over.”
Austria is also cautious despite being up 3-0.
“Hangang hindi natatapos ang games, wala pang ide-declare na champion.”
(No one will be declared a champion until all games end.)
San Miguel 96 - Reid 41, Fajardo 14, Cabagnot 13, Lassiter 8, Santos 8, Espinas 6, Lutz 2, Tubid 2, Semerad 2, Ross 0.
Alaska 89 - Travis 17, Abueva 15, Thoss 12, Banchero 8, Casio 7, Manuel 6, Dela Rosa 6, Baguio 5, Exciminiano 4, Menk 4, Hontiveros 3, Jazul 2, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarter Scores: 25-21, 48-52, 76-77, 96-89