The San Miguel Beermen and their supporters gather at midcourt in celebration of their fifth straight Philippine Cup championship won Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jun Mendoza
SMB makes history, cements legacy
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Much like the celebrated “Beeracle” of 2016, the five-peat feat in the PBA Philippine Cup tastes like the finest brew for history-making San Miguel.

“This championship is really special,” said coach Leo Austria after the Beermen carved their names into the PBA annals as the only ones to win the league’s crown jewel five consecutive times. 

“Some people want our dynasty to end but because of our pride, the players were talking about leaving a lasting legacy, we’re able to get this five-peat,” he added,

The Beermen surpassed the four-string all-Filipino championship of the legendary Crispa Redmanizers in the 1980s.

Down by 17 at one point in Game Seven and suffering a miserable five-point outing in the second quarter, the Beermen regrouped and played like the champions they are come winning time. They patiently chipped away and chipped away at the Hotshots’ lead and by the middle of the fourth, they got the driver’s seat. Engaged in a see-saw contest towards the finish, SMB sped fast Magnolia with Alex Cabagnot delivering the marginal jumper and June Mar Fajardo grabbing his 31st rebound off the defensive glass to seal the come-from-behind clincher, 72-71.

The Beermen completed their fightback from a 2-3 deficit in the series, pulling off their most spectacular triumph since famously erasing a 0-3 disadvantage in a seven-game dispatching of Alaska in the Phl Cup finals three years ago.

“For me, aside from the Beeracle, this was our most difficult (journey to the summit). They (Magnolia) gave us a scare and tested our trust in one another,” said veteran Arwind Santos. “Fortunately, God gave us this five-peat. Even long after we’re gone, we will be remembered as the only ones who made a five-peat in the all-Filipino.”

“All the championships are hard to win but this series ranks among the hardest,” said Fajardo, citing his team for not giving up. 

The series took a back-and-forth pattern through six matches with the Hotshots taking Games One, Three and Five and the Beermen drawing level with victories in between. To keep their crown, the SMB cagers needed to end the duel with back-to-back wins.

As Fajardo and his fellow starters celebrated yet another triumph, they felt doubly happy for first-time champs Terrence Romeo and Christian Standhardinger. They gave the duo the honors of doing the traditional net cutting.

“We want to share this with them because there will come a time they will be in our places and they will be the ones to share it with the newcomers in San Miguel,” said Santos.

Romeo scored a breakthrough after years of heartaches, enjoying the fruits of embracing his new role as a back-up and dropping the shoot-first style he’s had all his career.

“I’m so happy I can’t express what I’m feeling,” said the former FEU star, who joined SMB in the season-ending Governors’ Cup  from TNT. “The first is always the most satisfying and this was my first since I became a basketball player. I only got a championship in the barangay level but never in high school, college, PBA D-League.”

And no, he’s not retiring yet.

Magnolia, meanwhile, took the exits with heads unbowed.

“We’re still proud that we reached this far,” said Hotshots star Mark Barroca, whose team overcame big holes throughout the tournament and came one good offensive play short of winning the title. “We played San Miguel to a Game Seven and made them play to our tempo. We didn’t get the breaks of the game. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We gave our best so we’re happy still.”

PBA PHILIPPINE CUP
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