Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
After a nail-bitter Game 4 victory, can San Miguel finally hoist the championship tomorrow?
As they say, it's never easy to close out a series especially a championship series against a team who doesn't want no matter how deep the hole they have put themselves in the series.
That's the thing that the San Miguel Beermen will try to do in tomorrow's Game 5 as they will try to go for the kill and hopefully, hoist their 4th consecutive Philippine Cup championship against the Magnolia Hotshots.
However, it's an easier-said-than-done scenario for the Beermen who needed 27 points from Alex Cabagnot and last-second heroics from Arwind Santos who made the crucial steal and nailed the free throws that sealed the 94-80 victory for the Beermen who can celebrate tomorrow IF they can take Game 5.
Now, if San Miguel wants to end this series as early as tomorrow evening, these are the things that they will need to do:
Lock Down Defense on Ian Sangalang
Back in the series opener which was won by the Hotshots, Ian Sangalang scored 14 of his 29 points in the 4th quarter alone and that was the difference. After losing Marc Pingris to a season-ending injury back in the semifinals, the Hotshots knew that will need more from Sangalang and he delivered in Game 1.
And he certainly almost led Magnolia to another stunning victory in Game 4. ALMOST. He scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in almost 38 minutes of action.
For the Beermen, shutting down Ian Sangalang is a priority one. They must make sure that he will have a hard time scoring unlike in Game 4 when he went 10 for 19 from the field. June Mar Fajardo must man up Ian Sangalang especially in the shaded area.
Unleash the Kraken. Again
For a man who just received his 6th Best Player of the Conference award, June Mar Fajardo's performance in Game 4 was considered a letdown. He had 16 points, 7 in the first half. He shot 33% from the field after being bothered by Magnolia's pesky pressure defense. Although Fajardo had 13 rebounds and 3 blocks, his presence was missing for the most part and that almost doomed the Beermen if not to the heroics of Arwind Santos.
Fajardo's dominance will be needed tomorrow and dominance not just in the rebounding battle. His ability to score on the inside, almost at will, is something that made Fajardo effective in the previous two games that resulted in two blowout wins. That's the kind of June Mar Fajardo that San Miguel needs to see.
Would you actually believe that Game 4 marked the first time in the series that neither team didn't have a double-digit lead? The Beermen once had a 7-point advantage while Magnolia led as much as 9 points. If anything, Magnolia has already proven more than once in this series that they challenge the Beermen with or without a double-digit deficit to erase.
Now, if the Beermen want to remind everyone that they are the most dominant all-Filipino crew in the PBA, the best way to do it is to clinch the championship with a dominant victory tomorrow. As simple as that.
It's almost sure that the Beermen will go for the kill tomorrow night so that can celebrate. Erasing a 3-1 series deficit is almost impossible but you have to remember that the Beermen came back from a 0-3 series deficit to win the championship. So frankly, anything is still possible.
Prediction: SMB wins Game 5.