Alex Cabagnot, after struggling for most of the Philippine Cup finals, came up big at the most opportune time for the San Miguel Beermen. Cabagnot scored 18 points, including the the off-balance baseline jumper in the final seconds that put the Beermen ahead for good. San Miguel held on Wednesday for the 72-71 win over the Magnolia Hotshots in Game 7 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
San Miguel becomes the only franchise to win five-straight All-Filipino titles. It was also the 26th overall title for the decorated franchise.
A lot happened inside the final 57.2 ticks remaining of Game 7. Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon muffed consecutive shots, Marcio Lassiter turned the ball over, and Jalalon botched a point-blank shot. With 4.8 seconds remaining, June Mar Fajardo missed two free throws that could have put the game out of reach. But Paul Lee secured the rebound, but could not make his way up court past Chris Ross and Arwind Santos. Lee was forced to heave a shot that fell well short as the buzzer sounded.
"I couldn't imagine this kind of success. I never thought that this will happen, SMB head coach Leo Austria said. "I never thought I will become a PBA coach, a San Miguel coach. I never thought I will win five all-Filipino titles."
While Cabagnot provided the timely baskets that helped the Beermen claw back from 17 points down, it was Fajardo who carried the team all series.
Fajardo was named Finals MVP after finishing with 17 points and a league-record 31 rebounds, the most by a local. He averaged 22.9 points, 19.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in the series.
San Miguel's Game 7 victory didn't come easy and it wasn't pretty. The Beermen had to overcome a horrendous second period in which they had an uncharacteristic 11 turnovers and made only a pair of field goals. Magnolia took a 38-25 lead at halftime.
The Hotshots were able to extend it to a 17-point cushion before the Beermen rallied.
"This is really special because a lot of people thought dynasty will be broken. We're thankful to get this five-peat," Austria said.
Fajardo wins third Finals MVP award
June Mar Fajardo added another trophy to his collection after adding the Philippine Cup Finals MVP award.
San Miguel 72 - Cabagnot 18, Santos 17, Fajardo 17, Ross 7, Lassiter 5, Romeo 4, Standhardinger 4, Rosser 0, Pessumal 0.
Magnolia 71 - Sangalang 18, Reavis 11, Lee 11, Jalalon 8, Barroca 7, Ramos 6, Melton 5, Dela Rosa 3, Brondial 2, Herndon 0.
Quarterscores: 20-24, 25-38, 50-58, 72-71.
Cavs' guard Collin Sexton watched the game from the sidelines. He's in the country for the annual Jr. NBA program.
Fajardo's 31 rebounds shattered a 44-year-old record set by Marcelo Simbulan in 1975.
Terrence Romeo, Christian Standhardinger, and Kelly Nabong finally won their first championship.
According to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon, this game was the lowest-scoring Game 7 in the PBA finals in 17 years.