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Beermen quench thirst

San Miguel finally ended its three-year title drought as the Beermen dethroned TNT Tropang Giga, 119-97, in Game 7 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

CJ Perez, Chris Ross and June Mar Fajardo powered a pivotal fourth quarter surge as the Beermen took advantage of the absence of TNT head coach Chot Reyes due to health protocols.

Perez claimed his first PBA title, finishing with 25 points, seven assists and four rebounds, while June Mar Fajardo posted a double-double of 19 markers and 18 boards to win the Finals Most Valuable Player plum.

The hard-earned victory gave the SMB franchise its 28th overall crown and first title since ruling the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.

First-time champion Vic Manuel chimed in 16 points and seven boards, Marcio Lassiter had 15 markers, Mo Tautuaa added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Simon Enciso and Ross added 12 points apiece.

“We really thought a lot about this one. This will not be possible without the players, they really made it possible. They really helped me look good,” SMB tactician Leo Austria said.

“One thing I can say is that basketball is finally back,” he added.

Mikey Williams atoned for his atrocious Game 6 performance and sizzled with 17 early points, but Manuel and Perez teamed up in a blistering 19-2 run to mount a 61-49 lead for San Miguel.

The Tropang Giga’s woes even piled up as Poy Erram exited early due to a flagrant two foul that left a gaping hole on Tautuaa’s head that had to be treated inside the San Miguel dressing room, paving the way for the Beermen to seize a 66-55 halftime lead.

But TNT wasn’t about to hand the crown on a silver platter.

Jayson Castro leveled the count at 82-all before hitting a wide open triple, 85-82, to cap his 19-point explosion in the third frame.

But the Beermen were simply not to be denied.

Perez spearheaded a 17-0 run, before Ross fired three consecutive triples, 116-94, that left the Tropang Giga shell shocked with only 3:13 left to play.

The Tropang Giga miserably ran out of bullets and scored only five points in the final quarter.

Castro finished with a game-high 32-point performance but it went down the drain as TNT failed to defend its title.

The Scores:

SMB (119) — Perez 25, Fajardo 19, Manuel 16, Lassiter 15, Tautuaa 13, Enciso 12, Ross 12, Cruz 4, Brondial 3, Canete 0, Pessumal 0, Herndon 0, Zamar 0, Faundo 0.

TNT (97) — Castro 32, Williams M. 22, Pogoy 16, Rosario 11, Erram 7, Williams K 6, Marcelo 3, Cruz 0, Reyes 0, Tungcab 0, Khobuntin 0, Montalbo 0, Alejandro 0, Rosser 0, Banal 0.

Quarters: 29-31, 66-55, 84-89, 119-97.

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