Heart on Fire won the day in the thrilling second game of the best-of-seven 2016 PBA Philippine Cup between the league’s top two teams, the Alaska Aces, and the San Miguel Beermen. The current series stands as an epic rematch of last season – which saw the same tournament stretched to a thrilling seven games – with both sides bearing the pride and hearts of true competition.
Having secured Game 1 on Sunday, the Aces entered tonight’s match determined to not allow a repeat of the 2015 Philippine Cup, where the Beermen bounced back in Game 2 to even the series. Despite this year’s loss of league MVP June Mar Fajardo to a leg injury prior to the Finals, the Beermen held their own and played inspired basketball in front of a capacity crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.
For everyone watching, Game 2 proved exhausting to watch, with both teams going neck-and-neck up to the crucial final minutes. With the Aces up by a single point as game time dwindled down, every possesion became a battle of hustle, every rebound a battle of will, and every shot a battle of heart. With the fans standing and cheering for almost the entire game, this was a Game 2 that felt like a Game 7.
With seconds left to play, and the score teetering at 81-80 in favor of the Aces, Vic Manuel, who had spearheaded an Aces’ rally from 12-points down moments before, was sent to the foul line to shoot two. Fans held their breath in anticipation before as exploding in triumphant cheers as the ball hit the bottom of the net. It was the perfect capper to an epic ride.
Tonight’s match-up may very well go down as one of the best Finals games in PBA history. Though it was a game that went down to the wire, a win is a win, and the Aces are now two away from winning their 15th championship.
With two games in, both teams giving their all and no clear winner in sight, the 2016 Philippine Cup will go down as one for the books.