PASIG, PHILIPPINES – On the night of June Mar Fajardo being named the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference, the rest of his San Miguel Beermen teammates fed off his inspiration to pick up the slack and steal one win away.
San Miguel Beer stopped the Alaska Aces from claiming a series sweep, pulling off a 110-102 win in overtime in Game 4 of the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup finals on Sunday night at the Philsports Arena.
Guard Chris Ross flirted with a triple double with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists in an impressive all-around performance. Marcio Lassiter fired 26 to lead the San Miguel Beermen, while Gabby Espinas turned in 21 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out late in regulation.
The win also avoids recording a duo of ominous firsts for the San Miguel Beermen – a sweep in any round of the playoffs, including the finals, in 40 seasons; plus becoming the first defending Philippine Cup champion to be swept in a title defense series.
Down 11 in the last 3:31 of regulation, San Miguel went on a 16-2 tear to momentarily swing a 98-95 lead with four seconds left on the clock.
Cyrus Baguio heaved up an uncontested desperation trey from the left arc, swishing it right at the buzzer and knot the game at 98-all, sending the game into overtime.
But in the extra five minutes, San Miguel took charge led by Alex Cabagnot, whose three-pointer with the game tied at 102-all with 1:52 remaining in the extension unleashed an 8-2 run to end the match on a high note.
San Miguel Head Coach Leo Austria said that his players did not want to give up and executed when it mattered the most. However, he does not want to rest the series to luck to determine their fate in the series.
“I hope na ang momentum mapunta sa amin after this game, but I want for us to prepare better. Yung mga players ko ayaw mawalis ng Alaska. They never gave up and played all out today. I’m happy about it because makakatulog na ako,” said Austria.
Vic Manuel scored 20 points with 13 rebounds, while Calvin Abueva and Dondon Hontiveros each added 14 for the Alaska Aces in the loss.
The Alaska Aces will have to wait until Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. (GMT+8), at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to break a lengthy 16-year wait for its first Philippine Cup title since 2000 for its fourth Philippine Cup and 15th PBA title overall.
Earlier in the match, Alaska toyed with a visibly flat San Miguel five, getting their legs late in the first quarter on a 13-1 spurt in the last 4:27 of the period, led by the streak-shooting Dondon Hontiveros, to take a commanding 26-15 lead.
In the second, San Miguel revved up and turned things around to take a momentary 36-33 lead on a three-pointer by Marcio Lassiter, only to drop the ball again and relinquish a six point advantage to Alaska, 43-49, at the halftime break.
Alaska took control of the match completely in the second half, until late in the final period when San Miguel took charge and eventually sent the match into an extra session.