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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Scene Around: 2015 PBA Philippine Cup Finals Game 7

1/22/2015 2:43:31 PM

Looks like that ­­Wednesday evening was the wildest so far. Well, you couldn’t blame me for bragging that one out since it’s just the start of the year yet.

Especially at the local pro basketball scene where two teams went over the limit in one of the most historic finishers in the league we know as the Philippine Basketball Association.

The scene was set at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, and 22,511 attendants (including yours truly) and millions of watching spectators via TV broadcast coverages and live streaming on the internet, witnessed Game 7 unfold in their eyes.

I actually missed the first few minutes of the game where both Alaska and San Miguel Beer engaged themselves in a close battle. I arrived when it was nearby three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first quarter, and the Beermen was already starting to pull away. The crowd numbers may be a bit nothing compared to the past historic records made both by the PBA and other basketball leagues like the UAAP and NCAA at the Big Dome, but still it’s only rare you can see some empty bleachers.

And in fairness to their price (which obviously racks higher in the playoff stages), looks like it gave a bit of justice to the seating offered by the 55-year old Coliseum, which was once hailed as the largest indoor dome in the world.

I haven’t found a seat here, though.

Going back to the game. First quarter is in the books, and it’s a nine-point cushion for San Miguel, 21-12. Yes, talk about inverted digits right there.

Looks like the Beermen already clinched the seventh heaven with that huge lead in the next period. They even raised that one up to 23 somewhere in the second period. Plus an almost physical altercation between Alaska’s Samigue Eman and San Miguel Beer’s JuneMar Fajardo took place.

Emotions were high from players to spectators but it’s too racist for everyone to remarked “Ayan na! Bisaya kasi maglaro eh.” Hey, don’t you dare say so even if both hailed somewhere in the VisMin region. That’s worse than a technical foul.

Midway through the program, SMB saw their lead skyrocket to 21, 48-27.

I wonder though, did the Aces’ cheering squad enough to get the back in the game? Hey, they performed right there during the intermission.

And true enough, Alaska unleashed their series of scoring barrages to take third quarter in their favor, 59-62. Despite trailing by a solidary three-point basket, the Aces scored 32 points – including a series of three-point plays (four, if my memory serves me right) and barrage of hustle plays from Calvin Abueva – to send the place into frenzy.

Finals 12 minutes into both this ultimate sudden death contest, and the championship series itself, Alaska came back with a roaring fire to snatch the lead and thus, stating a huge comeback. The Aces even stretched their lead to six (74-68) at one point in the fourth canto, but SMB refused to roll over and die though. As they made clutch baskets, despite battling some crucial stops on the defensive end.

Abueva’s beast mode came into life once and foremost during the stretch, while his teammate Sonny Thoss was able to shake loose off from Fajardo with a series of nifty up-and-under the basket moves.

SMB’s Ronald Tubid made a critical tip to narrow the gap into two (74-76) as the coliseum barker announced “LAST TWO MINUTES!”

Thoss would answer with another smart big guy play off a huge offensive rebound by Alaska’s Chris Exciminiano.

But after Lutz makes his charities, San Miguel held on to the defensive end. And by the next possession, Santos took over as the one-time MVO award-winner launched a trey bomb from the right wing; and presto… SMB regained themselves once again, 79-78.

He added a free throw later to send his team leading by two.

During the final stretch, Alaska failed to score another basket, even if Tubid called a temporary stoppage which was then awarded with a technical foul on their part. (The Beermen were already out of timeout when he requested for one).

That became another pressure-cooker for Aces hotshot (and formerly from San Miguel) Dondon Hontiveros as he failed to nail the technical free throw.

They had another chance when Abueva forced a jumpball with Fajardo with 2.8 seconds left in the game.

Alaska won the tip, but it’s quite too late for them to either catch-up nor even to steal this one as JV Casio’s three-pointer went airball; resulting for the Beermen to end their long nine-conference – and at the same time, 14 years on being at the All-Filipino Cup – of championship drought.

Indeed, what a night for both squads. Both actually show heart. They never gave up, especially in the payoff period. Alaska showed they are indeed this edition’s comeback kings; while SMB proved they will never let this thing slip away from them after chasing the Perpetual Trophy for so long.

Fajardo, this year’s Best Player of the All-Filipino Conference came up with a huge 21 points and 25 rebounds game; while Santos – later won the Finals MVP, had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.

What an evening. I wonder though, what more should this thing have been scheduled on either Friday or Sunday? It’s just midweek and the championship craze went mainstream like the previous times.

Perhaps another best feat, considering SMB and Alaska may be aren’t crowd favorites, but the same ones who managed to pull off surprises and a bunch of high-intense fights.


Author: slickmaster | © 2015 september twenty-eight productions

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