June Mar Fajardo lived up to his billing as he steered the San Miguel Beermen to a 119-97 Game 7 victory over the TNT Tropang Giga to capture the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup champion’s trophy before a rowdy crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, September 4.
The Best Player of the Conference awardee canned 19 points on top of his 18 rebounds and five assists to lead the Beermen’s fourth period ambush along with his teammates Marcio Lassiter, CJ Perez, Vic Manuel, and Chris Ross, joining forces to pull off a roaring 17-0 start in the final canto.
MVP June Mar Fajardo
June Mar Fajardo was also hailed the Finals most valuable player (MVP), his fourth to level with James Yap, LA Tenorio, and Danny Seigle for most in league history.
His father’s presence made his feat more special although June Mar earlier dedicated his season to his late mother.
He said, “Gusto ko pasalamatan ang papa ko, andito siya. Hindi na pwede ang mama ko pero alam ko nanonood siya sa akin. Sana proud siya sa akin ngayon (I want to thank my father, he’s here. My mom can no longer make it but I know he’s watching over me. I hope she is proud of me).”
While Perez scored game-high 25 points, Manuel, Lassiter, and Ross chipped in 16, 15, and 12 baskets, respectively.
San Miguel’s Moala Tautuaa and Simon Enciso also came out with double digits in the sudden death decider. Tautuaa had 13 and Enciso finished with 12.
The victory tasted sweeter for Perez and Manuel who bagged their first PBA title.
Mission accomplish for SMB
Veteran coach Leo Austria gave due credit to his dedicated players who fought their way back into the series after trailing behind TNT, 2-3. The Beermen’s Game 6 win (114-96) kept their title hopes alive after equalizing the series, at 3-all.
“Andyan ang mga players namin, ginawa nyo na naman ako na mukhang magaling (Our players are there, they made me look like like a good coach),” Austria said as the franchise won its 10th all-Filipino championship and 28th overall title, making San Miguel PBA’s winningest ball club.
The veteran coach is no stranger to winning seventh game of sudden death Philippine Cup championship series as he also mentored the Beermen’s successful campaigns in 2015, 2016 and 2019. The Beermen also survived a 3-2 deficit to overcome the Ginebra Gin Kings to win the 2019 title in their Game 7 encounter.
SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua, for his part, said, “Mission accomplished, champion uli tayo. But credit also goes to TNT, lumaban sila kahit kulang na ng tao (Mission accomplished, we are champions again. But credit also goes to TNT for fighting despite being undermanned).”
Tropang Giga put up a good fight despite the absence of coach Chot Reyes who was sidelined due to health and safety protocols while Poy Erram was ejected from the game for his second flagrant foul penalty in the second period and Mikey Williams, who exploded with 17 baskets in the first canto, succumbed to an injury in the second half.
Jayson Castro, who played while enduring a sprained ankle, erupted with 32 baskets with 10 boards and eight assists.
The Box Score:
San Miguel 119 – Perez 25, Fajardo 19, Manuel 16, Lassiter 15, Tautuaa 13, Ross 12, Enciso 12, Cruz 4, Brondial 3, Faundo 0, Zamar 0, Pessumal 0, Canete 0.
TNT 97 – Castro 32, M.Williams 22, Pogoy 16, Rosario 11, Erram 7, K.Williams 6, Marcelo 3, Montalbo 0, Alejandro 0, Ganuelas- Rosser 0.
Quarters: 29-31, 66-55, 84-89, 119-97