Beermen beats Aces in Game 5, extends PBA Finals

San Miguel Beermen defeated the Alaska Aces a second straight time in Game 5, 86-73, in overtime to stay alive in their hunt for a second straight PBA Philippine Cup championship on Wednesday, January 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Off the heels of an improbable comeback win in Game 4, San Miguel handed Alaska its first consecutive back-to-back losses of the season to make the finals a 3-2 series. Reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo made his return to the court after hurting his knee in Game 6 of the semifinals, scoring 13 points in limited minutes in his first appearance of the Finals. San Miguel becomes the first team in 19 years to send a PBA Finals series to a Game 6 after being down 0-3.

The last team to do it was the 1997 Alaska Aces, who eventually lost in the Commissioner's Cup Finals to the Gordon's Gin Boars. No team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a PBA Finals series. The San Miguel Beermen, bolstered by the return of their MVP June Mar Fajardo, kept their title hopes alive after trouncing Alaska, 86-73, in overtime to extend the SMART BRO PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. San Miguel dominated the extra period, opening it with 11 straight points to put the game beyond reach and clinch the victory, their second straight in the title series after losing the first three. Arwind Santos had a huge night with 22 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three steals and four blocks while Fajardo scored 13 points in under 17 minutes of play for the defending champions. Alex Cabagnot added 12 points and Marcio Lassiter had 11. Chris Ross had eight points and seven assists while making some big plays in overtime. The Beermen get a chance to tie the series in Game 6, which will be played on Friday. Vic Manuel entered the game from off the bench early in the first quarter and made an immediate impact, scoring seven of Alaska’s next nine points. He was whistled for two quick fouls, though, on back-to-back defensive possessions and was forced to return to the bench. San Miguel, though, got a huge emotional boost when Fajardo was fielded in for his first minutes in these PBA Finals. The 6-foot-10 center played close to five minutes and scored six points, shooting 2-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He exited the game at the 7:42 mark with the Beermen ahead, 27-24. San Miguel then made a run to lead by as many as eight points, 36-28. But Manuel came in to close out the period for Alaska and picked up right where he left off, scoring six points as the Aces rattled off an 8-0 run to force a 36-all tie at the end of first half.

Manuel continued to do damage in the third period, coming out to score nine points to push his total up to 22 points. It was RJ Jazul that provided the X-Factor, though, as he knocked down three-pointers in consecutive possessions to push Alaska ahead, 53-49, late in the quarter. The Aces led, 55-52, at the end of the third. San Miguel then went on a 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter after Alaska went silent for over six minutes. Santos spearheaded the run, scoring seven points on a three-pointer and a couple of second chance points as the Beermen surged ahead, 62-55. Calvin Abueva finally broke through for the Aces at the 5:49 mark, finishing a shot after multiple offensive rebounds and putback attempts. Abueva followed that up with a great find of Chris Banchero, who scored in the paint, 62-59. Gabby Espinas struck in the post on the other end but Alaska still had some punches to throw as Jazul drilled a huge three-pointer and Manuel made a nice post move to tie the game, 64-apiece. Alex Cabagnot then made a huge, clutch three-pointer at the 53-second mark to make it 67-64 for the Beermen but the Aces were not quite done themselves, with Dondon Hontiveros responding in kind to force another deadlock, 67-apiece. Both teams got key stops in the final minute as the game entered an extra period. SMB took the upper hand in overtime with Fajardo opening the period with a split from the line. Ross then took over the game. He knocked down two free throws to make it a three-point game, 70-67, before leading the break and finding Santos for an easy layup, 72-67. He then leaked out in transition for a wide open lay-in, 74-67. Lassiter capped the run with four consecutive free throws to make it an 11-point lead, 78-67, before Alaska finally got on the board with 1:15 remaining.
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