Forgotten finals: That one time Marc Pingris won a title with San Miguel Beer

Paul Kennedy Lintag, ABS-CBN Sports

Posted at Apr 10 2020 04:00 PM

Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA today, only half of them have won a championship.

While all title wins are special, they’re definitely not created equal. Some just stand out more than others.

In this short series, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look back at the Forgotten Finals won by the six active PBA teams with rings.

Up next are the San Miguel Beermen.

2009 Fiesta Conference (4-3 win vs. Barangay Ginebra)

The Beermen have the most PBA championships in league history. One can’t blame anyone if some get lost in memory.

San Miguel Beer’s title win in the 2009 Fiesta Conference against Barangay Ginebra was the team’s last of the decade, pre-Petronovela.

It was an interesting time for the Beermen, as it could be described as one of the franchise’s transition champion teams. Most of the team’s old core such as team captain Olsen Racela, Danny Ildefonso, and Dondon Hontiveros were still around and the team’s future stars such as Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and June Mar Fajardo were not quite there yet.

Despite being the No. 1 seed, San Miguel was up-and-down to start the finals against Ginebra, falling 1-2 after three games.

The Beermen almost went down 1-3 in a close Game 4. But with the game tied, Gabe Freeman put San Miguel up two. Late in regulation, however, Freeman almost gave the win away, fouling Ginebra counterpart David Noel from the 3-point line.

Noel ended up missing all three free throws and the Beermen somehow tied the series.

Still, Ginebra recovered and take Game 5, which was oddly played five days later on a Monday due to a lack of venue.

In Games 6 and 7, Freeman dominated for the Beermen. The Best Import would post double-doubles in each game, leading San Miguel to two decisive victories for the title.

This was San Miguel’s first title since the 2005 Fiesta Conference, snapping a seven-conference drought. With the win, the Beermen also avenged their 2007 Philippine Cup Finals loss to Ginebra, increasing their all-time Finals lead against the Gin Kings to 3-1.

A forgotten finals, this was a championship San Miguel won with Marc Pingris in the lineup. Ping ended up being a key trade piece the following year that brought Arwind Santos over to SMB.

In this lost San Miguel title, Jonas Villanueva was Finals MVP. Oh yes.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).