This appears on the PBA's website.
What I thought of Game 7
What I thought of Game 7
by rick olivares pic by nuki sabio
That was some Game 7.
San Miguel mounted a huge lead and true to form, Alaska mounted a scorching rally where they even led. The Aces looked like they were ready to wrap it up in the second half but the Beermen got a huge lift from an Arwind Santos triple and free throw. He also had some massive stops and rebounds. And of course, there were those two Chris Lutz free throws.
And this was the only match of the series to come down to the last shot.
Now having said that….
The Beermen kept leaving the window open for an Alaska comeback
The game was never wanting in drama. After Ronald Tubid pulled a Chris Webber and called for a non-existent time out, SMB was whistled for a technical foul but Alaska’s Dondon Hontiveros missed the freebie easing the pressure even if just a bit.
Alaska still had two chances to tie it and win it but Calvin Abueva muffed a floater and Jayvee Casio’s desperation open three missed.
Earlier, in the face of mounting pressure, SMB brought in Jeric Fortuna and Ronald Pascual late in the game. They were sent in to spell a breather for the Beermen’s starters who were tired from playing long minutes but maybe they should have sat much earlier so the subs didn’t have to come in at a crucial juncture. It’s all water under the bridge in hindsight but it still bears some studying because the two times this happened to SMB in this Finals series, it backfired. Luckily for them, they didn’t pay for it or else it would have been pointed out post-match.
Arwind Santos, when the spirit moves him, is one of the best two-way players in the league.
He stood Calvin Abueva and stared him back and didn’t blink. I remember when Santos was with still playing for FEU and he was just like Abueva minus the overt physicality. During one match with Ateneo, he was blocking shots left and right and yelling at Japeth Aguilar’s face (who at that time was playing for Ateneo). FEU won that match but in the second round meeting, Aguilar blocked Santos on consecutive possessions and put the snarl away from the prodigious Tamaraw.
The lesson? Play chill and let your game do the talking.
No one blocks Abueva more emphatically than Santos and while it didn’t deter the Aces’ star forward who knows no fear, his two monster blocks on his fellow Kapampangan galvanized the Beermen.
Early in the series, Santos scattered his points and like Alex Cabagnot didn’t factor much in the game. But by Game Two, Santos was the Beermen’s obvious best player who towed SMB to victory as some of his teammates faltered in the stretch.
Those amazing Alaska rallies sure are fun to watch
How many times did they launch those stirring rallies after being down by 20-plus points down? I have never seen anyone do that before and with such startling regularity. Their tone, set by Abueva, Ping Exciminiano, Vic Manuel (and before his injury, Gabby Espinas) was infectious. Even Dondon Hontiveros played with a physicality I have not seen before.
Two weeks prior to the start of the Philippine Cup, the Aces went two-a-days in practices. It was tiring but they never complained. The defense, which was given to Louie Alas (didn’t Alaska’s defense remind you of his Letran teams), was to be their blueprint and a stark departure from the offensive schemes of the triangle. And true enough, their spunk and college-like game set them apart from other teams.
So what happened at the half?
Compton reminded the team to “do what you do” and that is to not run away from their offense and defense.
Of course, they will have to watch hours of tape to look for common denominators when they fell apart in the first half. There is the opinion that they expended so much energy in the rally that come crunch time they made crucial mistakes.
But they played some incredible basketball and along with the Beermen’s resiliency, it made for a great series.