And the winner is… SMB
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
BELOW is the synopsis of the first five games of this year’s PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven championship series between defending champion TNT Tropang Giga and number one challenger San Miguel Beer (SMB) that saw TNT taking the edge, 3-2, and was one shy away to clinch its back-to-back championship. SMB had to prevail twice consecutively to snatch the tiara.
Finally, after three years of title-drought, the SMB boys of veteran head coach Leo Austria engineered a convincing and amazing twice-in-a-row resounding wins, 114-96 and 119-97, in the last two games, to snatch the coveted crown both held at Smart Araneta Coliseum last September 2 and 4, respectively. We saw how physical the seventh and final match was, especially the second and third quarters that produced multiple technical and flagrant fouls that resulted in the ejection of TNT’s reliable center-forward Epoy Erram. One of the three referees called it a deliberate and flagrant foul on the hunky center Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa. The call obviously affected the morale of the TNT bench all the way to the final sound of the bell.
TNT edged SMB, 31-29, in the first quarter given the scintillating play of forward-guard Fil-Am Mikey Williams who pumped in an astounding 17 points with four triples. SMB, aware that Williams appeared to be their new obstacle to win the crown, coach Austria assigned Chris Ross to clamp down on the three-point specialist Williams, and the ploy paid off handsomely because Williams never scored a single triple since in the remaining three quarters and just drained five points. I believe that’s one of the reasons why the reigning titlists TNT lost with a humiliating 22 points, a Philippine Cup championship record.
SMB took charge in the second part, 66-55, but the never-say-die TNT boys, sans head coach Chot Reyes, countered in the third starred by RR Pogoy to grab the lead by five points, 89-84. And that’s all they could do without Erram as Philippine Cup MVP (Most Valuable Player) JuneMar Fajardo dominated the post while Finals MVP Ross and three-point specialist Fil-Am Marcio Lassiter executed three-point shots to widen the gap after the ninth deadlock, 89-89. In fact, TNT was scoreless, 4.57 minutes after the start of the fourth and final canto and only scored eight points in the entire quarter, another Philippine Cup championship record.
It was heartwarming to hear SMB’s point-guard CJ Perez dedicating his first ever PBA title to us Pangasinenses particularly his relatives here in the province during live television interviews with Ross and this year Philippine Cup MVP the 6‘10” Cebuano Fajardo. His statement reminded me my dedication also to all Pangasinenses when I won the 1973 Tour of Luzon tiara, my first of three. CJ was born and raised in Barangay Poponto, Bautista town in Pangasinan, a town mate and supporter of former Governor Amado I. Espino III.
Unlike CJ, Ross, became emotional during the interview, dedicating their triumph to his father who passed away recently. He said he felt the presence of his father during the game. It was his dad who motivated him to keep playing and stay focused on basketball at his early age of five years old.
Meanwhile, it’s Austria’s ninth title as a head coach of a PBA team, and also ninth for SMB squad. Their eighth was the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.
The 2022 Commissioner’s Cup opens on September 21 and for sure the teams will be playing with different tactics with some NBA imports making their presence. We should not miss the games.
* * * *
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—-great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses. DEUTERONOMY 28: 50
Share your Comments or Reactions
Powered by Facebook Comments