Our kind of game
HISTORY is a testament to the men who dare to write it, individually or collectively. And in the storied history of the Philippine Basketball Association, it seems only fitting that the country’s premier corporation carrying the name of the renowned San Miguel Beer for the past 125 years should create history by clawing back from the brink of disaster after digging itself into a 0-3 hole in the best-of-seven Philippine Cup Championships. Climbing seemingly insurmountable odds, the Beermen won four games in a row and captured a championship against the famed Alaska Aces, a team which itself has a history filled with distinction.
A lesser team than Alaska would have crumbled in the face of a devastating run by the Beermen, who seemed to have the victory wrapped up going into the last quarter. But the fighting spirit and resolute character of Alaska, led by the classy head coach Alex Compton and his key assistant Louis Alas, refused to give in or give up and staged a searing rally that was only doused by some incredible shooting by the “Best Player of the Finals” Chris Ross and a collection of heroes anchored by Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and the absolutely dominant center Junmar Fajardo, whose development this past year has been nothing short of phenomenal.
While there are those who would fault the referees for some of the non-calls when Alaska made an incredible run in the fourth quarter, we honestly believe that it would not have made a difference on the final outcome and that San Miguel Beer truly deserved their victory.
There were others who cited the gaping discrepancies in the calls in Game 5, where San Miguel was granted an amazing 35 free throws to a measly 5 for Alaska and had 37 fouls called against the Aces with only 17 against the Beermen.
But we believe that to harp on these shortcomings if indeed they were, would be a disservice to the PBA as an organization, to the Beermen who deserved the right to inscribe their name in the chronicles of the league, which has grown into a sport that is an integral part of the everyday lives of millions of Filipinos and would also reflect poorly on an Alaska organization renowned for its consummate class and its character, exemplified by its representative, Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, a gentleman-sportsman of the highest order.
The finals was an epic, any way you looked at it. And the fact that Game 7 saw a full-house at the Mall of Asia Arena and the ratings of TV 5 skyrocketed throughout the series, told a story of a breakthrough that fiercely competitive games and an excellent coverage provided millions of fans throughout the country, enhanced by the reach of Cignal TV.
We must congratulate San Miguel Beer head coach Leo Austria, who handled his players in masterful fashion even as he maintained his composure throughout and even PBA chairman Robert Non. It must also be said that although he was not present at the games, SMC head honcho Ramon Ang was obviously a quiet but efficient motivator, whose passion for winning is legendary whether it be in sports or in business.
Finally, PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa, an innovator and a gentleman with conviction deserves accolades for an eminently successful conference along with his assistants Rickie Santos and Willie Marcial.
Now it’s on to the import-reinforced conference, where we hope our favorite team Ginebra San Miguel, under coach Tim Cone, who did an excellent job as a TV panelist, will hopefully figure prominently. We can’t wait to see the PBA resume. It’s my kind of game!