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PostSubject: BEERMEN END 4-YEAR TITLE DROUGHT   Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:25 pm

In the end, talent and pride prevailed over character and attitude.

San Miguel Beer outplayed Barangay Ginebra in the grandest stage of a title playoff -- Game Seven -- fashioning out a convincing 90-79 victory to bag the Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference crown before a roaring crowd of over 20,000 at the Araneta Coliseum.

"Ginebra will always be a never-say-die team. They have that great character and attitude. But when we're tested after the Game Five loss, we showed our talent as well as our pride as a champion team," said San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen moments after the championship.

The Beermen emerged triumphant after a fortnight of fierce battle, dethroning the Kings as Fiesta Cup champs and, in the process, ending their chase for a first title since their 2004-05 Fiesta Conference conquest.

Gabe Freeman, the tournament Best Import awardee, proved too hot to handle in this eventful evening, bulldozing his way to game-highs of 29 points and 18 rebounds.

Then there were Jonas Villanueva, Marc Pingris, Danny Ildefonso, Mike Cortez and Mick Pennisi also rising to the occasion as the Beermen frustrated the Kings and their throngs, thus, notching the franchise's 18th championship overall.

Tanquingcen kept his mastery of friend and mentor Jong Uichico in playoff battles in earning a third personal championship. The youthful SMB tactician won his first two titles with Ginebra.

"Nagkataon lang yon," said Tanquingcen, downplaying his fourth win in as many playoff tiffs with Uichico.

"It took us quite sometime to close it out and I would like to apologize, knowing the high expectations of the management and the fans on us," Tanquingcen also said. "I had to admit we really have a powerhouse team. But when tested, it took us talent and pride to get the championship."

The Beermen made it a come-from-behind victory, clinching it with victories in Games Six and Seven.

Villanueva, the season's Most Improved Player, came through with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Game Seven and went home with the FERN-C Finals MVP trophy. He wound up with averages of 11 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the series.

With the win, San Miguel preserved its great ride in the classification round leading to outright entry into the Final Four.

Ginebra, second placer in the prelims, also gained automatic semis entry and proved to be a worthy finalist. But two missed shots at closing out the series had them yielding the coveted crown.

Freeman frolicked in the do-or-die setto, coming through with his 22nd triple double in the tourney.

David Noel, meanwhile, floundered in the face of tough adversity, struggling with a 3-of-11shooting and committing a game-high six turnovers.

SMB took control right in the opening quarter and held on to the finish in frustrating Ginebra and its die-hards.

The Beermen opened a sizable lead, 24-11, right at the onset of the game as Freeman asserted himself early, making nine points and five rebounds in the opening quarter.

The Kings came to within one at 35-36 but Freeman, Ildefonso, Villanueva and Mick Pennisi worked on a 9-2 closing run to take the half at 45-37.

It took the exploits of Jayjay Helterbrand for the Kings to prevent the Beermen from pulling away in the first 24 minutes of play. Helterbrand was seven-of-eight from the field for 15 points on top of four rebounds and the same number of assists in the first half.

It was an action-packed first half that saw the Beermen outrun the Kings, producing 10 points off the breaks, two more than that of Ginebra. (NC)

The scores:

San Miguel 90 - Freeman 29, Villanueva 15, Pingris 12, Ildefonso 10, Cortez 9, Pennisi 8, Washington 5, Hontiveros 2, Racela 0, Pena 0.

Ginebra 79 - Helterbrand 25, Menk 12, Tubid 10, Reavis 9, Noel 8, Lanete 6, Wilson 5, Baguio 4, Mamaril 0, Salvacion 0.[b]
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