Purefoods, a proud team with a rich tradition, is back as the king of the All-Filipino Conference.
The Giants held steadier down the stretch against a gutsy Alaska Aces squad, 86-76, to complete a rare sweep in the best-of-seven finals series of the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.
Willie Miller preserved his best for the final stretch in a bid to save the Aces, but the Giants led by James Yap and Roger Yap and a little bit of everything from Rico Maierhofer held steadier under pressure as Purefoods achieved only the third sweep in the history of the best-of-seven championship series.
Since the best-of-seven championship series was instituted in 1982, only the Northern Consolidated squad of coach Ron Jacobs in 1985 and Swift Mighty Meaty in 1992 were the only teams which swept their rivals.
Purefoods joined these historic squads in capturing its eighth championship in franchise history.
James Yap led the Giants with 18 points while Roger Yap contributed 16 as they teamed up in the final quarter to deliver the final blow to the Aces. While Maierhofer had nine of his 12 points in the third period as Purefoods made up for its lapses in the closing minutes of the second quarter with a strong second-half windup.
James Yap, who became the first player to win the best player of the conference and Finals most valuable player (MVP) awards, had seven points in the final period. He had back-to-back baskets in a three-minute stretch of the fourth period while Roger Yap had a nifty turnaround jumper as the Giants posted a 75-65 lead with 4:55 left in the game.
Miller, who was on and off in the finals series, had seven of his team’s last 11 points, including a three-pointer with 2:12 left that shoved the Aces back on the thick of the fight to find themselves trailing by five, 76-81.
A few seconds later, James Yap nailed the final coffin – a dagger three-pointer with 1:48 left – to put the Giants on safer ground.
Alaska never scored from there.
“I’m sure my mother-in-law is very happy," said James, dedicating the game to the late president Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, who has been his No. 1 fan.
Gregorio now 3-0 over Cone
The two coaches refused to center the attention among themselves while the finals was ongoing. But for the third time, Tim Cone, the winningest mentor among active coaches and one of only four grandslam bench tacticians in the PBA, lost to Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio.
And the third one was possibly the most lopsided.
Gregorio scored a sweep and this victory was possibly the most decisive over Cone.
In the 2005-06 best-of-seven semifinals series, Gregorio and his embattled Giants came back from a 1-3 deficit and won the last three games to beat the Aces. In 2002 Governors Cup, the youthful mentor also came back from 0-2 down to complete a Cinderella Finish and win his first-ever league crown.
In pulling off another win over Cone, Gregorio also became the first Purefoods coach to win an All-Filipino crown twice. Coaches Ely Capacio (1991), Chot Reyes (1993) and Eric Altamirano (1997) each won a title for Purefoods throughout their coaching career with the Giants, but Gregorio was the first one to win two, the first one was in the 2005-06 Philippine Cup. – GMANews.TV
Pureoods 86 – J. Yap 18, R. Yap 16, Raymundo 13, Maierhofer 12, Pingris 9, Simon 5, Reavis 5, Canaleta 3, Artadi 3, Salvador 2, Allado 0.
Alaska 76 – Thoss 19, Miller 17, Tenorio 11, Hugnatan 9, Cariaso 5, De Vance 4, Fonacier 4, Dela Cruz 4, Ferriols 2, Cablay 1, Borboran 0.
Quarter scores: 21-15, 40-40, 65-58, 86-76.