Mendoza: Why San Miguel is champ again

·2 min read

When it rains, it pours.

That ancient cliché came to mind again in the wake of San Miguel Beer’s 119-97 title-clinching victory over TNT on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

Down by five points after three quarters, the Beermen unleashed the fiercest comeback in recent memory, blasting away a searing 17-0 run that transformed an 84-89 deficit into a 101-89 lead as the Tropang Giga were outrageously silenced in the first five minutes of the final frame.

So crippling was SMB’s early explosion that it left TNT crashing into a sorry state of helplessness the rest of the way.

The scene was a gristly sight similar to a street crime committed in broad daylight.

TNT was like a snatcher cornered in an alley by chasing villagers, who were seething with anger in delivering body and facial blows—stopping only after their prey was left half dead.

When Jayson Castro broke the scoring drought for TNT with two free throws at the 7:09.2 mark, Chris Ross immediately countered with a three for a 104-91 SMB margin.

Castro tried again to spark a TNT rally with a three-point play against June Mar Fajardo’s third foul.

But that only emboldened SMB to deliver the blow to end all blows in the Game 7 decider.

Marcio Lassiter jumped, Vic Manuel drove, Mo Tautuaa laid up, Ross uncorked back-to-back threes from the parking lot and, of all people, Fajardo capped the bombing binge with his first career triple from far left.

It all amounted to a 35-5 blast—with TNT’s measly five points in almost the entire fourth period all scored by Castro.

It was the deadliest and longest scoring streak in the series, so long that it was even longer than the NLEX and SLEX Expressways combined.

“It just so happened that they hit those threes in our faces,” said coach Josh Reyes, who subbed for his father, Chot, who was down with Covid-19. “So, what can you do?”

It’d be a bitter coaching debut that will haunt the young Reyes for years.

In dethroning a practically coach-less TNT, San Miguel unloaded six threes alone in the final period, one each by Lassiter, Perez and Fajardo, and three by Ross.

“This is for my Dad watching up there,” said Ross, the game’s best player, who lost his father recently.

With the win, SMB now has 10 All-Filipino crowns, including a record five straight from 2015 to 2019.

Much credit goes to Fajardo, voted the conference’s best and the Finals MVP.