(UPDATED) San Miguel Beer did the unthinkable.
The defending champions made history by beating Alaska, 96-89, in the winner-take-all Game 7 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday to become the first team ever to come back from a 0-3 series deficit.
It wasn't an easy feat as the Beermen needed to fight off the Aces’ spirited challenge in the payoff period wherein Alaska managed cut their 19-point lead to just 5 markers.
Chris Ross led San Miguel's triumphant march to history with 21 points and 5 assists, while June Mar Fajardo, who battled through injury, was equally damaging against Alaska with his 21 markers and 15 boards.
Coach Leo Austria praised his players for refusing to bow out despite dropping their first three games against the Aces.
“Gusto kong pasalamatan ang San Miguel management, the coaching staff and the players who refused to lose. They want to win another championship especially nang malaman naming we're making history,” he said.
The Beermen also got plenty of help from Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos, who tallied 15 and 13 markers, respectively.
But it was Ross, who had series averages of 8.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.7 steals, who was named as the Finals Most Valuable Player.
“I can’t really take this trophy by myself,” said the 6’1” shooting guard.
“We’re down 0-3, but in Game 4 Gabby [Espinas] had an all-star performance, Marcio [Lassiter] had an all-star performance, Alex [Cabagnot] hit a big shot, June Mar came back playing 60 percent on his feet. To me we’re all MVPs… I can’t take this award by myself, for me we’re all MVPs.”
The Beermen started aggressively, with Ross leading the charge for an early 15-8 advantage against the Aces. Chris Banchero and Cyrus Baguio kept the game close for the Aces and brought their deficit down to 38-43 by the end of the first half.
In the third period, Alaska went as close as 3 points, 40-43, after Jayvee Casio knocked down a jumper. But Fajardo started a searing run for the Beermen that broke the game wide open, 68-49.
The Aces threatened to take over the game midway the payoff period where they whittled the deficit, 77-72. But Ross’ shots clicked again, enabling the Beermen to quash Alaska’s incursion towards the end.
San Miguel's win ruined Banchero's 21-point effort for Alaska. Calvin Abueva has 16 markers for the Aces, while Vic Manuel, who was Alaska's main man in their first three wins, was held to 3 points.
Alaska, which was seeking its first All-Filipino crown since 2000, also finished second to San Miguel in the past two conferences.
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