Latest PBA title sets San Miguel up for 30th crown

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As players, officials, members of his staff and their families savor the thrill of being champions of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup, coach Jorge Gallent sneaked into the hallway of Smart Araneta Coliseum and went to the altar to thank the Man upstairs.

“Ah sarap, p—,” Gallent told The Inquirer shortly after the Beermen’s 104-102 victory over the Magnolia Hotshots on Wednesday, his first title since being given the keys to San Miguel Corporation’s flagship franchise and the PBA’s only original member.

It’s probably partly joy and partly relief for Gallent, who just in his second conference joined the ranks of other coaches who have steered teams to the PBA championship.

Gallent previously admitted feeling plenty of pressure to take over from current consultant Leo Austria, who had previously guided San Miguel to nine championships with a roster anchored by June Mar Fajardo. Both Gallent and Austria shared a warm embrace amid celebrations at center court.

He defused the pressure by leaning on the other thing that fuels his competitiveness—golf.

In fact, Gallent took time amid the championship to hit the links, even witnessing celebrity friend Derek Ramsey make a hole-in-one from the 12th green of the Alabang Golf and Country Club on the eve of the Beermen’s march to the winner’s circle.

Seeing Ramsey complete a first-ever ace looked like a premonition for Gallent’s grandest PBA moment.

“That’s what he told me. This is a sign,” Gallent said. “I just cannot say ‘I’m gonna win tomorrow. I’m gonna work on it.’ Like the hole-in-one, tsamba. And now, we were down nine, 10 points, and then we hit three-point shots. Went in.”

Luck was not on the Beermen’s side for most of Game 6 as the Hotshots looked ready to send the series to a deciding seventh game.

Standard of all franchises

Magnolia was still up going into the stretch, until San Miguel knocked down threes, forced turnovers and saw CJ Perez buck his first-half struggles and used the earful he got from Gallent as fuel to make the big plays that translated into a 29th PBA title for the fabled franchise.

“Wow, what a feeling,” said Gallent. “Coming from behind and getting this great victory, I thank my players for not giving up. That’s the composure that we have.”

The Commissioner’s Cup triumph sets San Miguel up as favorites to hoist a 30th franchise crown with the season-ending Philippine Cup starting later this month.

And the Beermen certainly have the tools to prove why they remain the standard of all franchises in the league.



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Perez is expected to build on his standout conference which saw him win Best Player of the Conference and the PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) while Jericho Cruz seems poised to do even better coming off his own stellar contribution in the series.

And of course, there’s still the towering presence of Fajardo, who always thrives in All-Filipino tournaments which has resulted in San Miguel winning six of the last eight editions. The Beermen head to the second conference as the reigning holders.





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