The Top 8 PBA Finals Moments
From the Past Five Years
By Naveen Ganglani
The first finals of the 2017-2018 PBA season will begin on Friday when San Miguel and Magnolia tip off Game 1 at the Araneta Coliseum. With the amount of talent and star power on both teams, it’s hard to imagine this 7-game Philippine Cup final series not being a classic.
If you’ve been watching the PBA over the past few years, I’m sure you noticed how a lot of the championship round matchups have delivered countless memories. We take a look back at some of those moments and rank the top eight:
Rain or Shine finally gets over the hump
When the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters beat the Alaska Aces in Game 6 of the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup Finals, it ended a four-year title dry spell for the proud franchise.
Following numerous heartbreaking defeats in the semis and finals, Rain or Shine finally got the job done against the Aces by dominating from outside in the sixth game. The win awarded Yeng Guiao his seventh championship, with Paul Lee winning Finals MVP.
We’re ending this now
Talk ‘N Text was a dominant team during the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup tournament. The Texters went 9-0 in the elimination round and then swept both the quarters and semis en route to the finals. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a team who had a date with destiny.
In the best-of-5 Finals series, SMC (now Magnolia) took a 2-1 lead after the first three games. TNT then built a double-digit lead in the early goings of Game 4 at the PhilSports Arena, but the Tim Cone-coached Coffee Mixers rallied to make it a close game late. Down the stretch, Mark Barroca and James Yap delivered to get their team one step closer to a Grand Slam.
Grinding out the title
San Miguel is aiming for a fourth straight Philippine Cup title against Magnolia this conference. The first championship of that run started in 2015, when the Beermen outlasted the Aces in a classic 7-game series.
After blowing a 23-point lead, the Beermen found themselves trailing late in game seven until Arwind Santos came to the rescue. JVee Casio had a chance to win it for Alaska at the buzzer, but he badly missed his game-winner. The series win gave SMB its first All-Filipino championship since 2001.
Sweep? Not so fast
Alaska and San Miguel faced again a year later in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals. With league MVP June Mar Fajardo sidelined, the Beermen were facing a tough challenge and fell behind 0-3 in the series. In game four, Alaska looked in perfect position to complete the sweep by building an 11-point lead with 3:31 to go.
The Beermen, however, mounted a 16-2 run and were able to complete the victory in overtime. Although the series lead for Alaska was still a dominant 3-1 following the match, history was already in the making.
Talk ‘N Text wins it in OT
The 2015 Commissioner’s Cup Finals showcased two proud teams unwilling to quit. So it was only fitting that the series went all the way to a game seven and needed double OT to settle a winner.
Unfortunately for Rain or Shine, the heroics of veteran Ranidel De Ocampo, who was named Finals MVP, was too much to handle. The sweet-shooting big man finished with a career-high 34 points to lead his team against the Elasto Painters in a game that won’t be soon forgotten.
Grand Slam, completed
There was no denying how much was at stake in game five of the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup Finals. The title was on the line, yes, but more importantly, a win for SMC would give them the league’s first Grand Slam since 1996.
Rain or Shine was a team hungry to finally get the title, but James Yap (29 points) was too much for them to handle. At the end, it came down to one shot, which the Elasto Painters missed at the buzzer. Afterwards, history was made.
0-3? Not a problem
When the Aces blew game four of the 2016 PH Cup Finals they probably thought they were still in good position to win the championship. Unfortunately for them, Fajardo returned to the series and San Miguel did not lose the rest of the way.
The Beermen went up by 21 in Game 7 before the Aces rallied, but thanks to the heroics of the MVP and Chris Ross, San Miguel was able to hold on for the 96-89 win. The triumph was league-changing, as SMB became the first team since the PBA’s inception to come back from a 0-3 deficit.
Welcome back, Ginebra
When Tim Cone became the head coach of Ginebra, this was automatic: nothing less than a championship would be expected. Just three conferences into his tenure, Cone delivered.
Ginebra faced Meralco in the finals of the 2016 Governors’ Cup and won it thanks to Justin Brownlee’s game winner in the sixth match. The buzzer-beater ended an eight-year championship spell for the Gin Kings, and the way he did it was fitting for the moment.
What even makes the moment sweeter is that Ginebra rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit after receiving a pep talk from Robert Jaworski.
What other moments come to mind? Share them with us below!