SMB WINS ANEW
Fajardo returns as inspired Beermen escape Aces in OT
Nearly given up for dead after a slow start in the series, the San Miguel Beermen are back in the thick of fight.
Cebuano center June Mar Fajardo made a surprise return and the defending champions Beermen pulled away in the overtime period to frustrate the Alaska Aces, 86-73, last night in Game 5 of the 41st PBA Philippine Cup Best-of-Seven Finals at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen staved off elimination anew as they chalked up a second straight win that cut Alaska’s series lead to 3-2.
In league history, no team has ever come back from a 0-3 hole. None has even forged a 3-all after going down 0-3.
The Beermen now find themselves threatening to make history. And that chance even looks brighter with their main man back.
San Miguel head coach Leo Austria had said Fajardo will only return if the series reaches Game 7, but the 6-foot-10 giant participated in the shoot-around then made his first appearance in the Finals with 56.3 seconds left in the first quarter.
Fajardo promptly made his first attempt, a fall-away jumper that handed the Beermen a 23-20 lead after the first period.
Fajardo went on to finish with 13 points and his return may have inspired his teammates, especially Arwind Santos. The lanky forward finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Following up their 110-104 overtime win in Game 4, the Beermen appeared ready to take Game 5 in regulation after Alex Cabagnot dropped a booming triple with 53.1 seconds left.
Cebuano Dondon Hontiveros answered with his own huge three-pointer that tied the contest at 67 with 45.3 ticks to go.
Alaska got the ball after Cabagnot missed a jumper in the next play but Calvin Abueva missed a floater atop the key hole that forged the five-minute extension.
With their season on the line, the Beermen shifted to full gear in the extra session, racking up 11 straight points to erect a 78-67 lead with 1:17 remaining.
Alaska sputtered further as it didn’t make a field goal until Abueva scored in the paint with 54.4 seconds left and the Beermen comfortably ahead, 79-68.
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