Game 7: Which side will history bless? Aces, Beermen put end to epic duel
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – History will be literally waiting in the wings tonight.

It will stay there until the epic series between San Miguel Beer and Alaska has run its full course. Then it will move in with the one which will reign and give solace to the other.

But which side of history will the Beermen and the Aces be consigned to and which team balloons will cascade from the rafters? That is the question.

It’s a first Game Seven of this kind in the local pro. San Miguel looks to be the first team in PBA history to win a crown after trailing 0-3 while Alaska is out to be the first franchise to salvage the championship in Game Seven after blowing away a 3-0 lead.

Before an expected sellout crowd at the MOA Arena, the Aces and the Beermen put a climactic end in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven titular series with each team taking a shot at a truly memorable triumph.

Tip off is at 7 a showdown marked by Alaska’s 3-0 breakaway and San Miguel’s mighty fightback that set this classic winner-take-all.

“In the situation we both are in, it’s hard to lose,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

The Aces strung up Games One to Three to be within a win of a first all-Filipino crown in 16 years. The Beermen, however, refused to roll over and die in the next three games and instead put themselves in a position to complete a championship not seen in the league, the NBA or in any other pro league.

“Whatever we have, we’ll bring it all out,” said San Miguel forward Arwind Santos.

“All the players aim to win the crown. We’ll do everything we could to win it,” said SMB behemoth June Mar Fajardo.

But though foiled in Games Four to Six, the Aces remain confident, insisting they still have a good chance to salvage the series.

“I’m really hard-headed,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.

“I get excited about this stuff as I have a hard head. I’m a believer and I firmly believe in my guys. My guys are such a great group to coach, and I hope I can deliver for them and we play a great game,” said Compton. “We’ve got to play. We have no excuse for the hole we’re in. It’s a one-game toss-up, we’ll see what happens.”

League watchers, however, tend to believe SMB is now the better team with the momentum and confidence built on its three-game romp inspired by the return of Fajardo.

Consider too the extra recovery time enjoyed by Fajardo on the four-day break after Game Six.

“June Mar will be able to recover. He’s only about 70 percent (of his old playing condition). He may be 85-90 percent by Game Seven. So it’s good for us,” said the SMB mentor moments after Game Six.

With a brace to support his injured left knee, Fajardo returned to play some minutes in Games Five and Six, helping the Beermen extend the series to a winner-take-all setto.

He chipped in 13 points and four rebounds in 16:28 minutes of action in their 86-73 overtime triumph in Game Five, then put in 16 markers, seven boards, two steals, one block and one assist against two turnovers in 22:10 minutes of play in their 100-89 triumph Friday.

Compton doesn’t disagree Fajardo ‘s return gives tougher  problem.

The Alaska mentor , however, maintains they stand a good chance of winning if they can execute their plays and make their shots.

There’s no secret the Aces bank on pressing defense and transition offense, with a spread-out output from core players Vic Manuel, Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Jvee Casio, Dondon Hontiveros, RJ Jazul, Chris Banchero.

Part of the Aces’ problem in the last few games was the slump in scoring of Baguio and Casio.

The two teams also fought in a deciding Game Seven in the all-Filipino finals last season with the Beermen barely pulling through on a last-second shot by Arwind Santos.

The Beermen hope to repeat for a third crown in four conferences and 22nd overall.

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