Great things have been said about the San Miguel Beermen winning the Philippine Cup Finals after being down 0-3. “Historic!” Sportswriters wrote. “Miracle!” San Miguel Coach Leo Austria said.
The turnaround was not really historic and a miracle when one considers the facts of the championship series. The fact is there were in reality two different San Miguel teams that played in the Philippine Cup Finals. In the first three games, it was a minus-Jun Mar Fajardo San Miguel team that played against the Alaska Aces. “Depleted” was how one sportswriter referred to the San Miguel team even if it was just one player less. But the minus-one player happened to be the vital cog, the heart of the team, the reigning MVP of the league.
But a different San Miguel team showed up for what was supposed to be the closeout game, meaning the end of the series with the Alaska Aces emerging as the champions. With June Mar sitting on the San Miguel bench, although still unable to play, San Miguel won the fourth game. That is how a big difference June Mar makes in the game. His mere presence on the bench rattled the opposition. When he finally suited up, even if just for very limited playing time, the Philippine Cup Finals became a different series – a different San Miguel team played against Alaska.
Therefore, no miracle happened.