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No stopping Drive for Five

Looks like San Miguel Beer will live up to the Drive for Five hype in its campaign for a record fifth straight Philippine Cup title.

Flashing their meanest forms with the Magnolia Hotshots within a win of the title after a lucky buzzer-beater shot in Game 5, the Beermen sent the 2019 best-of-seven PH Cup championship playoffs to a deciding game tomorrow with a masterful, series-tying 98-86 victory Sunday.

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The Beermen led by 22 points two times, the last at 95-73 in the closing minutes of Game 6, and experts expect them to be just as tough in their final meeting with the Hotshots, who escaped with an 88-86 victory Friday as Mark Barroca beat the final gun with a jumper.

“The players didn’t want to lose. They didn’t want to relinquish the title. And now we have a good chance to grab it again,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, whose title streak in the league’s All-Filipino tourney started in 2015 when the Beermen came back from 0-3 to frustrate the Alaska Aces in the Finals with a four-game sweep.

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After three successive 22-point games, Barroca was held to six points this time even as Marcio Lassiter finally rediscovered his shooting touch and joined hands with Chris Ross to provide support for June Mar Fajardo, who led the Beermen with 23 points and 18 rebounds.

Magnolia, the losing finalist here last year which is seeking a second straight crown, had held SMB below 100 points in scrambling wins in Game 1 (99-94) and Game 3 (86-82).

But the Beermen were simply awesome when their fighting hearts are in the right places. They led by as much as 20 points before taking Game 2, 108-101, and then easily won, 114-98, in Game 4. They could have easily posted an even more lopsided win in Game 6 but allowed the Hotshots to close the game with a 10-3 run.

Desire and motivation will also be crucial in the PBA’s first Game 7 since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup won by Talk ‘N Text over Rain or Shine.

And former Gilas Pilipinas guard Terrence Romeo and 2018 top rookie draft Christian Stanhardinger will be oozing with them as they seek a first PBA championship as prized recruits of the Beermen.

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TAGS: Basketball, Magnolia Hotshots, Philippine Cup, San Miguel Beer
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