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Beermen survive Aces' scare, win Philippine Cup pennant

By Ivan Saldajeno

San Miguel squandered a 21-point halftime lead but fought back to beat Alaska, 80-78, in Game 7 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Beermen led, 48-27, at the half, but they saw the lead being trimmed to three after the third quarter, 62-59.

The Aces continued the comeback and eventually by as much as six, 74-68, with 4:26 left.

But two free throws by Junemar Fajardo sparked San Miguel's last stand, and Chris Lutz followed with a fastbreak layup to cut the lead to two, 74-72.

Sonny Thoss extended the lead momentarily with a lay-in of his own, but Lutz scored two free throws to put it back to two with 1:24 remaining.

The Aces missed a chance to stretch the lead anew, giving the Beermen an opportunity closer.

Arwind Santos put San Miguel back up, 79-78 after converting a three-pointer from the right wing with 43.7 seconds left.

Thoss failed to convert in the next play, but Santos, after getting fouled off the rebound, split his charities to give Alaska one more crack to at least force overtime.

But Calvin Abueva misfired on his floater and on his follow-up as Ronald Tubid won the ball after a scramble. Tubid, however, called an excessive timeout as the Beermen ran out of stoppages, leading to a technical foul.

Dondon Hontiveros, however, missed the technical free throw to cap the Aces' poor outing from the stripe all game long.

But Abueva forced a jumpball call with 2.8 seconds left after pressuring Fajardo at the baseline.

Abueva won the tap, and Thoss found Jvee Casio. Casio, however, missed a triple at the final buzzer as San Miguel took home its 20th PBA title and its first Philippine Cup plum since 2000.

Santos, who was named the Finals MVP, finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks, while Fajardo added 21 points and 25 rebounds.

Abueva, on the other hand, led the Aces with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

San Miguel 80-Santos 22, Fajardo 21, Tubid 12, Lutz 10, Cabagnot 10, Lassiter 5, Maierhofer 0, Ross 0, Kramer 0, Omolon 0, Pascual 0, Fortuna 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0

Alaska 78-Abueva 23, Thoss 15, Baguio 11, Casio 7, Banchero 6, Manuel 4, Hontiveros 4, Jazul 4, Exciminiano 2, Menk 2, Eman 0, Dela Rosa 0, Dela Cruz 0, Espinas 0

Quartercores: 21-12, 48-27, 62-59, 80-78