San Miguel outlasts Alaska in Game 7 squeaker

Manila, Philippines – Arwind Santos pulled off a winning triple and June Mar Fajardo’s 20-20’s helped San Miguel to withstand another rally from Alaska to win 80-78 in Game 7 of the Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Santos’ three-pointer put the Beermen on top 79-78 with 43 seconds left in the game. He also made the crucial free-throw to increase the lead into two, 80-78.

Santos finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals while Fajardo had 21 points and 21 rebounds. Santos eventually awarded the Finals MVP of the Philippine cup.

On the other hand, Fajardo made his presence felt early in the game by dominating the post against his defender Sonny Thoss. The 6-10 center was instrumental in maintaining the composure of the Beermen as they were being pressured by Alaska’s defense.

Alaska found themselves in a 23 point deficit in the first half but the never-say-die Aces were determined to rally back again through Calvin Abueva’s all-around game. Alaska seized and even up by six points in the fourth quarter.

San Miguel had to dig deeper this time to battle the rampaging Aces, knowing that the big lead was evaporated. This time, Santos and the Beermen responded from teeth-to-teeth offensively and defensively.

Alex Cabagnot’s three-pointer lifted the Beermen to rise up against the Alaska aces, who won in a come-from-behind victories in the Finals.

The Beermen posted a 48-27 lead at the half through the energetic offense of Fajardo and his vaunted defense. Fajardo already scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the first 24 minutes of play.

The combined forces of Abueva, Thoss, and Jvee Casio resulted into an 11-0 spurt that provided the Aces a 74-68 advantage with 4:21 left in the fourth.

Fajardo and Chris Lutz did their part by cutting the lead into two, 74-72. While still trailing 78-76, Santos delivered the go ahead triple that gave life to the Beermen and eventually enough to win the game.

The Aces had chances to tie the game but Abueva missed two shots, a floater and a tip-in.

In almost a bizzare ending, SMB’s Ronald Tubid pulled off the rebound and called a time out, while San Miguel had no more time out to call. SMB was issued a technical and Alaska can make life out of it with 6.4 seconds left.

Don Don Hontiveros felt pressure being in the freethrow line as he missed the technical throw. In the succeeding play, Abueva forced a jumpball on Fajardo. Abueva also won the tip to Casio, who had a chance to win the game for the Aces but missed the potential three-pointer at the buzzer.

“It’s like getting punched in the gut that makes you feel sick in the stomach. Sorry to be descriptive,” Alaska coach Alex Compton said after the game. “It’s really weird because in the mix of that pain there is still a tremendous pride in that effort. I have required a lot for everybody in our team”.

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