San Miguel, an All-Filipino power, adds to collection of ‘reinforced’ crowns

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San Miguel Beermen celebrate winning the PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–San Miguel Beer’s triumphant PBA Commissioner’s Cup run at the expense of Magnolia completed somewhat a recent rarity for the league’s winningest franchise.

Wednesday’s win at Smart Araneta Coliseum allowed the Beermen to capture just their fourth title in an import-laden conference led by June Mar Fajardo and fellow remnants of the “Death Five” in a stirring conclusion to a campaign that started with injuries.

Of the nine titles won with the celebrated unit, six came in Philippine Cup conferences. The only three import conferences the Beermen won in their Death Five era were the Commissioner’s Cup in 2017 and 2019 and the Governors’ Cup in 2015.

Fajardo, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter are the remnants of that feared quintet, with Arwind Santos and Alex Cabangot dealt away in separate trades.

San Miguel ruled the most prestigious tournament of a PBA season from 2015 to 2019 before regaining its place on the throne in 2022.

Recent seasons with foreign players have seen San Miguel struggle to come through with the trophy since its last title, before the recent run in an import-flavored tourney in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.

San Miguel was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Governors’ Cup and 2022 Governors’ Cup and the semifinals of 2022 Commissioner’s Cup after replacing its original imports while being swept in the 2023 Governors’ Cup despite sticking with its original choice in Cameron Clark.

The Beermen replaced Ivan Aska late in the eliminations for Bennie Boatwright, whose string of victories catapulted them to the PBA Finals and eventually another title for San Miguel Corporation’s flagship franchise.

Import change

San Miguel import Bennie Boatwright lifts the PBA Commissioner's Cup trophy

San Miguel import Bennie Boatwright lifts the PBA Commissioner’s Cup trophy. – MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

A win also extended San Miguel’s hold as the team with the most titles ever with 29, a number that looks tough to match. In second place is sister team Barangay Ginebra with 15 titles while Magnolia is tied with the defunct Alaska franchise for third with 14. TNT, the other active member, has nine.

The victory also made the Commissioner’s Cup the second straight tournament ruled by a team that swapped its import.

Last season’s Governors’ Cup saw TNT defeating Ginebra with import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who came in place of Jalen Hudson for the latter part of the eliminations despite an impressive start for the Tropang Giga.



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Recent champions that did the same were San Miguel in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup with Chris McCullough and Ginebra in the 2016 and 2018 Commissioner’s Cup with Justin Brownlee.

San Miguel also won the Commissioner’s Cup for the fifth time, the most ever. Its other victories were in 1999 and 2000.





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