Who is the Death Five

Who is the Death Five?

Many PBA and NBA teams have attempted to construct potent lineups, but it is only sometimes effective, especially when the five players are superstars. Coaching a squad of skilled players might be one of the most challenging undertakings.

In the contemporary period, we experienced SMB’s success under the direction of Coach Leo Austria. He oversaw the “Death Lineup” or “Death Five” of SMB, which is colloquially known as the “Babad System” (soaking in the game).

Who are the Death Five?

Death Five Lineup

The “Death Five” became the San Miguel Beermen’s lineup’s pinnacle of domination in the 2010s. This dangerous combination was led by a talented group of basketball players that included Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and June Mar Fajardo. These stars, each in their own right, made a formidable quintet that left an unforgettable impression on the basketball world.

How Did the Death Five Formed in SMB?

The establishment of the Death Five in the San Miguel Beermen (SMB) was a deliberate and strategic process, including several player acquisitions, trades, and draft picks. This robust roster, which included Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and June Mar Fajardo, resulted from intentional selections by SMB management.

Arwind Santos, picked initially as the second overall choice by the Air21 Express in the 2006 draft, aspired to play for the San Miguel Beermen (SMB). His dream was realized in 2009 when he was sold to SMB in exchange for Mark Pingris. Santos’ profound career with the Beermen began with this crucial move, and he became a cornerstone of their success.

Alex Cabagnot: Before joining the San Miguel Beermen, Alex Cabagnot worked for Burger King in 2010. When he was traded for Mike Cortez, he moved clubs. He created the ground for Cabagnot to offer his abilities to the SMB roster, eventually becoming a vital part of their lineup.

Marcio Lassiter: Marcio Lassiter began his career in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 2011 when the Powerade Tigers drafted him. But fate had other ideas for him, as the San Miguel Beermen eventually purchased him. SMB made another intelligent move with Lassiter’s entrance to reinforce their squad with a player recognized for his sharpshooting and varied playing style.

June Mar Fajardo: The San Miguel Beermen’s draft of June Mar Fajardo was a watershed moment. His arrival in the league heralded the arrival of a formidable force in the paint. Fajardo’s pick signaled the start of a new era for SMB, as he developed into one of the league’s top big men, eventually playing a crucial part in the team’s sustained success.

The San Miguel Beermen (SMB) did not initially pick Chris Ross. Instead, he became a member of the squad through a trade. Ross began his career in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as the fifth overall choice in the 2009 PBA Draft with the Coca-Cola Tigers (now known as the Powerade Tigers). He became essential to the SMB roster until a trade, notably contributing to the team’s success and playing a critical role in the Death Five lineup.

Why they called the "Death Five"?

For the San Miguel Beermen’s 2010 team, the “Death Five” title was more than just a clever phrase; it symbolized their deadly domination. Like a five-headed dragon, they were like a well-oiled machine on the court.

Their offensive firepower, led by Alex Cabagnot’s clutch shooting, scoring skills, and court vision, gave a new dimension to the team’s vicious plan.

June Mar Fajardo, a powerful force in the painting, was at the center of it all. Fajardo’s imposing presence, rebounding abilities, and scoring prowess made him one of the league’s top big men. June Mar Fajardo, the PBA’s first six-time MVP, was overpowering on the inside.

Chris Ross brought his tremendous defensive and playmaking abilities to the floor, establishing a solid presence in the backcourt.

Marcio Lassiter’s accuracy and mobility made him a constant danger from beyond the arc, providing the Death Five with another scoring weapon and defensive toughness.

Arwind Santos demonstrated his two-way ability in the frontcourt, contributing defensively and offensively. His agility, shot-blocking ability, hustle, and scoring ability made him vital to the team’s success.

How did they Began?

The quintet of players was still finding their feet with the Petron Blaze Boosters in their early days, battling through hurdles. However, it only took one season for these faults to be addressed and flawlessly blended into the powerful Death Lineup. The arrival of Coach Leo Austria was critical in solving the riddle, and his essential contribution became a vital component in the quintet’s triumph.

By the 2015 season, they had climbed to supremacy, winning the Philippine Cup and extending their tenure as reigning champions till 2020. They won eight titles together, carving their names in the annals of PBA history. The dynasty established by these five players was already recorded in history, demonstrating their collective skill.

While the lineup will inevitably disintegrate with time, those who observed their journey saw more than a group of bright individuals. They were witnesses to the core of team chemistry. Among the five, a distinct collaboration evolved, defined by a lack of ego conflicts and smooth cooperation, earning them the SMB’s “Perfect 5” designation. This connection was seen in their performance, demonstrating a degree of collaboration in which no one player overwhelmed another. As a result, they may justifiably claim to be the pinnacle of a flawlessly coordinated team.

Who is in charge of the Death Five?​

Coach Leo Austria oversaw the administration and coaching of the Death Five, the dangerous lineup of the San Miguel Beermen. Coach Leo Austria was instrumental in bringing together the skills of Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and June Mar Fajardo to form a coherent and formidable squad. His strategic direction, grasp of player dynamics, and tactical savvy were critical in maximizing each player’s potential and building a lineup that became synonymous with success in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The Death Five, led by Coach Austria, proved individual brilliance and the necessity of great coaching in bringing together top players and building a cohesive team.


The Death Five were more than simply a collection of individual abilities; they were a symbiotic combination of skills and chemistry masterfully engineered by Coach Leo Austria. This lineup’s success was not based merely on star power but on seamlessly blending each player’s abilities into a coherent team. Their cumulative accomplishments, titles, and memorable performances attest to individual players’ skills and the coaching strategy implemented throughout this era of San Miguel Beermen basketball. The Death Five period is forever carved in PBA history to symbolize unrivaled collaboration and accomplishment.


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