I don't know how to start this. I don't even know whether I'll gonna post this or not. Despite the celebration, I'm still somewhat in a state of shock from what happened Sunday night. That was the biggest 9 and a half basketball minutes (about 20 in real time) of my life. With my team, B-Meg, down by 9, I said to myself, "Looks like it's my turn to do the Magoo (eating my words because I made a forecast that their opponents, Talk 'n Text, will not win a grand slam)."
Then the unthinkable happened. James Yap ignited a 7-0 run that cut the Llamados' deficit to 2, 67-69. I began to be on my feet. I became restless. Even the landlord became upset at me, "Just sit down." Then Larry Fonacier hit that awkward long tom to bring it back to 5. I know Fonacier is one of the deadliest shooters in the game, even in his days at Ateneo, but hitting a shot as quirky as that stunned me. The Texters made another field goal, and I said to myself, "Looks like it's destined."
Then more stunners took place. After TNT import Donell Harvey got fouled out, Ryan Reyes re-injured his left knee, Ranidel De Ocampo suffered cramps, Jimmy Alapag, who exploded for 29 in what Texters coach Chot Reyes called Alapag's game of his life, followed suit, and Jayson Castro also went down. I murmured, "Is it just me or are these really happening?" Then Denzel Bowles, B-Meg's international player, made an awkward yet awesome follow-up. 74-70 Talk 'n Text. Then Josh Urbiztondo, a guy not known to drive to the lane, rushed on an open court game after a Texters miss for a reverse lay-up. AND 1! Although Josh missed the bonus free throw, Talk 'n Text only got one point back after Ali Peek split his charities. 75-72 TNT. Yap, who was cold all game long, misfired a three-pointer, but Joe DeVance was there for the follow-up. Texters lead down to 1. The Llamados again fouled Peek, and Peek only made 1/2. B-Meg calls for time. The ball landed on the arms of James Yap anew. I was really tense, even more restless than before. I just don't know what to do next. Yap drove the lane, went for the lay-up, and missed. He got it back, found an open Bowles, went for the tie again, and missed. And it's over...
Wait! What? The referee blew the whistle, even louder so that the table officials would clearly hear it in spite of the noise of 21,046 in attendance (probably around 24-25K if the Smart Araneta Coliseum allowed those who were not accommodated). Turned out, Kelly Williams pushed Bowles to force the miss. My nervousness became more imminent than it was just minutes ago. Denzel Bowles, the reigning Best Import of the PBA Commissioner's Cup, will attempt what would be the biggest two free throws not just of his young career, but of his life too. He released the ball for free throw number 1. Jared Dillinger jumped because he thought Bowles would miss it. The ball hit the back rim, but went in. Now Bowles went for the tie. The ball went a bit off right, but still enough to shoot the ball in the goal. Castro tried to save the game, but his desperation heave from deep misfired badly.
AND WE'RE TIED! I began to burst in tears after seeing Bowles getting teary-eyed. Then team manager Alvin Patrimonio, me and my mom's favorite hardwood hero during my childhood days when he was still wearing a B-Meg (formerly Purefoods) jersey, rushed to embrace Bowles as if Patrimonio, a 4-time MVP and many-time champion, has just won his first title.
Now we're set for overtime tip-off. All of a sudden, I, who despite being a Christian is not known to pray for his team to win, began to say a short prayer like, "Lord, I pray for B-Meg to win." Alright, Talk 'n Text drew first blood of the extra five minutes, but Denzel Bowles became a man on a mission. He responded to every TNT goal with his own. Then the Texters went on a drought that costed them the championship, but Bowles remained red hot, hitting all but three of B-Meg's overtime points. All of a sudden, what was once a 9-point deficit with more than 4 minutes to go in regulation became a 7-point lead, 88-81, with a little more than 30 seconds to go in overtime, an awesome 9 minute turnaround. Fonacier hit another awkward three-pointer to keep the game in Talk 'n Text's reach. Jonas Villanueva, who scored two free throws prior to his latest turn at the stripe, missed his second free throw, but Bowles was again there for the repossession. Bowles, perhaps due to fatigue (he played 50 minutes overall), made a split from the line. The Texters had one more chance, but Dillinger misfired the rushed three-ball. Fonacier got the offensive rebound, but he missed it too. The Llamados got the rebound.
GAME OVER! B-Meg won! Mr. Ivan Saldajeno, from being one of the most nervous B-Meg fans, became a Bryan Danielson, aka Daniel Bryan, cosplayer wannabe. "YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!" I was celebrating like how Marc Pingris did it.
Although it's already two days past, every time I see a highlight reel video of that Game 7, I still feel the nervousness, the restlessness, and the happiness that game brought to me. Congratulations, B-Meg! That was the sweetest win I witnessed.
A B-Meg fan since birth