SAN Miguel Beer beat a terribly outclassed and outfought Alaska side on Friday night, 91-81, to complete a sweep of the PBA Governors Cup Finals and reclaim its stature as the pro league's premier team.
Import AZ Reid scored 33 points and together with newly minted back-to-back MVP June Mar Fajardo proved to be the catalysts for a Beermen side which just last season was a team in disarray amid talk of internal strife.
That, though, seemed a distant memory as the Beermen looked unstoppable since losing their first two games of the conference, capping their amazing run with a 4-0 sweep of Alaska in the best-of-seven finals.
“Hindi ko maisip kung paano talaga kami naka-sweep dahil at the start of the season, alam namin na Alaska is a strong team. Sila ang naging barometer namin,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said. “And that is the reason we really worked hard.”
“We’re just luckier than them,” he added, noting they often came from behind against the Aces in the series. “We’re always thinking of what to do. Nakikita namin kung anong ginagawa nila and that’s the time na nakapag-adjust kami.”
More than 14,000 fans stood witness as balloons and confetti rained down the Smart Araneta Coliseum catwalk as the Beermen toasted their second championship this season - and 21st overall for a franchise that had its glory days with a team led by Hector Calma, Mon Fernandez, Allan Caidic and Samboy Lim.
This SMB team had the likes of Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, Reid and Fajardo - all of whom came together and clicked at the right time, defanging an Alaska team that had looked good in the run-up to the finals.
Reid, a two-time Best Import awardee but never a champion with Rain or Shine, buried the dagger baskets in the third quarter when the Beermen completed a comeback from a 14-point deficit.
Fajardo, on the other hand, sustained his stellar play down low, tallying 19 points, 21 boards, three steals, and two blocks to be adjudged Press Corps Finals MVP and complete a triple celebration after being named the season MVP for the second straight year just hours prior.
After falling into a 49-35 hole late in the first half, the Beermen started their climb in the third quarter, where Reid scored 16 and Marcio Lassiter added nine as the Beermen turned things around and completed a 19-point turnaround heading into the fourth quarter.
Eleven unanswered points, capped by a Reid three-pointer from the left wing, to start the payoff period gave the Beermen their biggest lead at 81-65 and took the fight out of the demoralized Aces, who came no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Calvin Abueva made the most of his 33 minutes, scattering 22 points, 17 boards, and three assists, but the Aces’ downfall began when their energizer bunny had to sit down after picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
Romeo Travis continued to be a disappointment as the supposed Best Import contributed just 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting and seven boards in 40 minutes.
SAN MIGUEL 91 - Reid 33, Fajardo 19, Lassiter 12, Espinas 8, Santos 6, Cabagnot 5, Ross 3, Lutz 2, Tubid 0.
ALASKA 81 - Abueva 22, Travis 15, Thoss 13, Baguio 7, Exciminiano 7, Casio 5, Menk 4, Banchero 3, Jazul 3, Dela Rosa 2, Manuel 0, Hontiveros 0.
Quarterscores: 18-17, 37-49, 70-65, 91-81