San Miguel Beer completed its comeback from the grave by holding off the Alaska Aces, 96-89, to win Game 7 and the title in the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena, Wednesday, Feb. 3.
A crowd of 23,616 fans, the biggest ever to watch a PBA game at the Mall of Asia Arena, witnessed history as the Beermen became the first team to come back from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series in the 41 years of the league.
The Alaska Aces had their chances but their rally fell short. The Aces were on the verge of catching up to the Beermen after they started the fourth period attacking at both ends. The Aces pressured the ball carriers then stole the ball again and again to go on to score layups.
Trailing by 17 points at the end of the third quarter, the Aces unloaded a 19-7 burst to start the fourth period. Jvee Casio started the run with a triple. The run was capped by a steal by Chris Exciminiano and a layup by Banchero as Alaska cut the SMB lead to just five points, 70-75, with still 7:35 to go in the game.
The Aces trailed by just five points, 70-75, with still 7:35 to go in the game and the Beermen panicked by the Alaska pressure defense.
But the heavy hands of the referees again surfaced calling three quick fouls in a matter of seconds which put the Aces into penalty and effectively doused cold water on the Alaska rally.
With the Alaska pressure defense effectively defused by the unfortunate calls by the referees Chris Ross converted back-to-back layups to cap a counter 12-5 San Miguel Beer run which pushed the game beyond recall as the Aces trailed by 12 points, 75-87 with 3:05 left to play.
To the surprise of the Beermen, and everyone else at the playing arena, the Aces started the game with three timeouts and four substitutions. But Ross gave the Beermen an early lift. He drilled a triple along with a layup as the Aces trailed by seven points, 15-8, with 6:02 to go in the first period.
Dondon Hontiveros cut into the San Miguel Beer lead with a pair of three pointers to go with a layup by Exciminiano as the Aces trailed by six points, 16-22 after the first quarter.
Playing spot duty on defense Alaska big man Sam Eman acquitted himself well. Relying on his length Eman had a clean block on Fajardo forcing the SMB big man to commit a travelling violation with 10:14 to go in the second period.
Eman continued to be used at times to guard Fajardo. Eman tallied another block on Fajardo with 11:14 to go in the third period.
ALASKA ACES 89 – Chris Banchero 21, Calvin Abueva 16, Cyrus Baguio 10, Jvee Casio 8, Ping Exciminiano 8, Dondon Hontiveros 6, Noy Baclao 4, RJ Jazul 4, Sonny Thoss 4, Rome Dela Rosa 3, Vic Manuel 3, Tony Dela Cruz 2, Sam Eman 0, Eric Menk 0.
SAN MIGUEL BEER 96 – June Mar Fajardo 21, Chris Ross 21, Marcio Lassiter 15, Arwind Santos 13, Alex Cabagnot 8, Yancy De Ocampo 7, Ronald Tubid 7, Gabby Espinas 2, Chris Lutz 2, Brian Heruela 0.
Quarter scores: 16-22, 38-43, 51-68, 89-96.