Apr 07, 2018

Beermen determined to end series in Game 5

They were tired and longing for rest, and the fear of playing more games spurred the San Miguel Beermen on to salvage Friday's game, and end their chase for a historic fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup crown.

June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot all endured playing long minutes, and basked in glory in the end.

A crowd of over 10,000 at the MOA Arena stood as witness as the Beermen essayed an epic comeback feat to dispose of the Magnolia Hotshots in their title showdown.
San Miguel pulled off a 108-99 win in double-overtime Friday to win the best-of-seven series in five games.

As they fell behind by 23 points in the third quarter, the Beermen could have opted to just go through the motion and just be ready for the next game.

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But the Beermen refused to lose and refused to let the Hotshots live to play another game.

"We didn't want the series to be extended. The momentum would shift to them in the next game, and they would have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We didn't want that to happen," said SMB coach Leo Austria.

"When we caught up, we realized it's still possible to end the series, and the guys made it happen," Austria added.

The SMB bench chieftain, now a six-time PBA champion coach, deflected the credit to his players.

"It's on them ayaw na nilang bumalik pa sa ensayo, ayaw na nilang lumaro pa nang extra game," said Austria on the great effort his players churned out to salvage Game Five.

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"June Mar was tired and he already wanted to take a vacation. Kita mo sa facial expression niya. Imagine nga naman katatapos ng Holy Week, pero hindi kami nakapagpahinga," said Austria.

"Arwind and Marcio were already feeling onset of cramps. I was asking them if they wanted to be relieved. They said 'no, let us to continue to play.' They showed their attitude as a competitor," Austria also said. "When they sensed there's the chance to win the game, binigay na nila lahat."

Thus, the Beermen beat the Hotshots four in a row to complete an all-Filipino four-peat - the first in the league since Crispa wrote the same milestone in 1984.

The Beermen were dominant in their 2018 PBA Philippine Cup title run, dropping only three games in the elims and two in the playoffs.

After a heartbreaker in Game One of the championship series, the Beermen overpowered the Hotshots in the next two games, won a grind-out battle in Game Four (84-80) then pulled off the comeback to remember to clinch the series.

And they can rest now while savoring another championship glory.(SB)