JAKARTA—They fell just a bucket short last year. But this time, San Miguel Beer grabbed everything it could.
In a season of shining moments, the Beermen completed a championship sweep that capped a remarkable run highlighted by a historic 16-game winning streak and sweetened by three individual honors.
“The only thing on my mind was winning the championship,” said topnotch guard Chris Banchero “We lost by two points [to Indonesia in the finals] last year, so that’s the only award that I wanted.”
Driven from the get-go, Banchero and the Beermen got the job done by dethroning the Warriors in a 70-55 Game 3 drubbing that wrapped up the title series, 3-0, on Wednesday night at Mahaka Square here.
But the Beermen picked up more than the crown as Banchero also clinched the Finals Most Valuable Player, just a couple of weeks after Leo Austria bagged the Coach of the Year and Asi Taulava the season MVP.
“We really saw that this is the time to win championship,” said Austria. “The imports are close with Asi and they really interact and motivate the locals. Everybody wanted to win.”
In another performance that belied his age, the 40-year-old Taulava paced the Beermen with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in Game 3.
“We have a great bunch of guys,” said Taulava, who bagged the MVP a decade after winning the same honor in the PBA.
Leo Avenido posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds and Banchero also had 10 markers in the game where the Beermen pulled ahead by as many as 17 points, 65-48, in the second half.
“We gave them everything we had and they were able to overcome it,” said Indonesia coach Todd Purves. “They deserve the championship no doubt. The depth of San Miguel was really the difference.”
But the good news isn’t over for the Beermen with Austria reportedly getting pinched for a head coaching job for one of the San Miguel teams in the PBA and Taulava also being eyed for a comeback with Ginebra.
“He’s PBA material,” San Miguel Corp. basketball operations head Robert Non, said of Austria.
Banchero also boosted his stock along with young guns like Jeric Fortuna and JR Cawaling, who are set to join the next PBA Draft.
But for now, the Beermen would just like to cherish their record feat that brought the title back to the country since the Philippine Patriots bagged the inaugural crown in 2010.
SAN MIGUEL BEER 70–Taulava 19, Banchero 10, Avenido 10, Acuña 9, J. Williams 7, B. Williams 6, Fortuna 5, Hubalde 2, Menk 2, Cawaling 0.
INDONESIA 55–Wuysang 21, Daniels 15, Pringle 11, Thomas 5, Smith 0, Prihantono 0, Sitepu 0.
Quarters: 14-10, 33-27, 53-43, 70-55