Mendoza: Why Meralco is champ—finally

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SunStar Mendoza
SunStar Mendoza

Meralco was hungry. And angry, as well.

Deprived of a much-coveted title four times, Meralco couldn’t be denied this time.

Like a lion longing for a much-delayed meal, Meralco mangled its prey with—to repeat an old line here—murder in its eyes.

It manifested in the team’s consistent sniping, hastened, grievously, by an inconsistent defense by San Miguel Beer as seen mostly in the early goings.

Look, why was Bong Quinto left open in banging home a three-point shot, ridiculously allowing Meralco to mock San Miguel’s defenses?

Boy, this is the championship. Giving the enemy all day to shoot is suicide, to say the least.

Raymond Almazan was even allowed to xerox Quinto’s free-as-a-bird triple attempt at center, the ball bouncing up high after hitting the front rim, and next kissing the glass before finding the bottom of the net.

When you come down to it, those triples by Quinto and Almazan immensely mattered in Meralco’s gripping 80-78 victory for a 4-2 series-clinching triumph that won for the Bolts the season-ending Philippine Cup.

Of course, the punch line was deservedly delivered by Chris Newsome with 1.3 ticks left.

The 6-foot-2 Newsome drilled the title-clincher from the baseline despite being seriously challenged by Don Trollano, ending the Bolts’ 14-year wait of a first ever PBA crown.

Anger accompanied Meralco’s manifest mission—completed with clinical gore through that Newsome fallaway jumper.

Meralco’s wrath reached summit proportions when its 17-point, 46-29, lead was blown to pieces in the fourth and final quarter, where the Beermen even erased a 73-61 deficit to knot the count at 78-78.

And why is that?

Believe it or not, but June Mar Fajardo, of all people, ignited a rather stunning San Miguel revolt—from long distance at that.

Fajardo, all of 6-foot-10, heaved a triple from left quartercourt, the ball miraculously swishing the nets before the best player of the Conference fell on the seat of his shorts from the sheer weight of his gigantic, albeit totally unexpected, missile.

Call it divine comedy as Fajardo is more known to inhabit the paint than hit threes.

After Newsome’s winning shot, Fajardo reloaded and missed at the buzzer—but, of course. One miracle is more than enough.

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