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PBA: Beermen are champ

By JONAS TERRADO

TNT’s Jayson Castro drives against San Miguel’s Marcio Lassiter (left) and June Mar Fajardo during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Game 6 at Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

TNT’s Jayson Castro drives against San Miguel’s Marcio Lassiter (left) and June Mar Fajardo during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Game 6 at Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

The San Miguel Beermen moved closer toward achieving one of the most difficult things to accomplish in PBA history after capturing the conference that has eluded them for so long.

San Miguel overcame the second hurdle in its after finishing off TNT KaTropa, 115-91, last night to win the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown before a crowd of over 10,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Game 6 turned into a grand coronation for the PBA’s most successful franchise after the Beermen delivered a near-perfect performance in the first half that left the KaTropa deflected and complete a 4-2 series victory and capturing the midseason conference title that has eluded them for 17 years.

Coach Leo Austria and the Beermen no longer considered this tournament as their waterloo as they produced a fitting follow-up to their successful championship run in the Philippine Cup to move closer to the grand slam.

Now all the talk now centers on whether the Beermen, who won the crown for a record 24th time, can take home the Governors’ Cup trophy which starts on July 19 and join the fabled Crispa Redmanizers as the only teams to win the hat trick twice.

Crispa won it in 1976 and 1983, before San Miguel became the third in 1989. Coach Tim Cone’s 1996 Alaska Milkmen and 2014 San Mig Super Coffee Mixers were the other two grand slam teams.

It was the Beermen’s fifth crown since Austria was appointed in 2014 to turn what was once a team in turmoil into a squad of champions.

Alex Cabagnot was named the Cignal-PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player by becoming the first player since Willie Miller in the 2005 Philippine Cup to a register a triple-double in a title game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, completing a series that saw him as one of the major stars in the title run.

Marcio Lassiter, who started the series by missing all 11 three-point shots, saved his best for last by firing 24 points spiked by five triples, while Arwind Santos had another all-around showing with 17 points and seven rebounds.

The competitive phase of Game 6 ended early with the Beermen banking on a 56-percent shooting highlighted by eight triples to take a 62-42 halftime lead.

TNT, which survived Meralco and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to reach the grand stage of the conference, tried to erase the huge deficit behind rookie Roger Pogoy, but San Miguel proved to be too much.

San Miguel led by as much as 28 points by garbage time, triggering early celebrations by the players and supporters.

Later on, the balloons and confetti fell on the Big Dome floor, something the Beermen hope to see next conference and seal a place in history.

Scores:
SAN MIGUEL 115 – Rhodes 30, Lassiter 24, Cabagnot 19, Santos 17, Ross 14, Espinas 5, Semerad 4, Fajardo 2, De Ocampo 0, Heruela 0, McCarthy 0, Van Opstal 0, Agovida. 0,

TNT 91 – Rosario 21, Pogoy 16, Smith 15, Castro 13, De Ocampo 7, Garcia 7, Williams 4, Tautuaa 4, Rosales 2, Semerad 2, Reyes 0.

Quarterscores: 37-26, 62-42, 94-69, 115-91.

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