FEAR THE BEER. If any team could do it, it would be San Miguel.
When the final buzzer sounded and the confetti fell upon the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Beermen had their arms raised in victory. They edged the Magnolia Hotshots 72-71 in a grueling, low-scoring Game 7.
A record-breaking night
Despite being down 17 early, San Miguel channeled that championship spirit that’s been with the franchise for decades. And it was enough, pushing them to their fifth straight Philippine Cup title – a league first.
June Mar Fajardo produced 17 points, and hauled a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) record 31 rebounds. He added 2 steals and 2 blocks. Those monster numbers led to the big man’s third Finals MVP, and his seventh conference title.
“‘Di ko ine-expect yun. Basta iniisip ko, kunin ko yung rebounds,” said Fajardo.
Fajardo’s 31 rebounds broke Marcelo Simbulan’s record of 29 from way back in 1975, the PBA’s opening season.
The final board was crucial, taking down a Jio Jalalon miss at the 4.8-second mark to clinch the game.
Alex Cabagnot led the Beermen in scoring with 18 points. He hit a go-ahead baseline fade-away with 57.2 seconds left.
Terrence Romeo, who had never won a championship in the PBA (or even in college), was delighted to bag his first.
“Sobrang saya. ‘Di ko maexpress yung feeling pero sa lahat ng bagay, yung first talaga yung pinaka-masarap,” he said. “Ito yung first championship ko simula naging basketball player ako.”
The high-scoring guard failed to find his shot in the final game of the series, only finishing with 4 points. He did add 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Prior to the Finals, the FEU alum joked that he could retire early if he ever wins a championship. He immediately retracted his statement in a post-game interview.
“Both teams deserved to win the championship. We just got lucky tonight,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
The franchise has now tallied nine Philippine Cup championships, and 26 total titles.