SMB eyes three-peat anew
After winning three straight Philippine Cup, San Miguel Beer is making its quest for another historic feat and this time, the winningest franchise in PBA history has its eyes on the bigger prize -- the grand slam.
Once a proud winner of the triple crown in one season in 1989, the Beermen can repeat the three-peat should they win the season-ending Governors’ Cup, which will begin on Wednesday.
Indications are strong for the Beermen’s grand slam aspirations.
Not only is the squad intact, the Beermen became more dominant -- at least on paper -- even before the start of the tournament.
They have a healthy lineup, a good sign on the team’s ambitious quest.
Already having the most dominant player in the league in reigning three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, the Beermen brought in early the immovable reinforcement in Wendell McKines.
McKines was a thorn on the opposite end for the Beermen, who faced the massive and strong import in the Governors’ Cup semifinals series two years ago.
With Fajardo and McKines now taking care of business up front, the Beermen have become a good to the last drop squad much like its own beverage brand which had been the toast of the town for about a century.
They have the best backcourt combo in Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot, who showed to all and sundry that they could co-exist and play more efficiently together rather than relieving one another.
In fact, the two guards were the best players in the just concluded Commissioner’s Cup -- with Ross ending up as the Best Player of the Conference and Cabagnot emerging as the Finals MVP.
Then, there’s Arwind Santos, a former MVP, who gladly accepted the role as the most dependable Sixth Man.
Santos was in fact a strong candidate as Finals MVP before Cabagnot presided in the latter stretch. While they were making a strong case for the individual plum, they were working as one unit when it comes to winning.
Then, there’s Marcio Lassiter, probably the best pure shooter in the league today. Guys like him has become a tailor-fit for the system of the squad anchored on Fajardo, who has now become more of a willing passer and decoy to make the Beermen look better than just throwing his weight and size around the basket.
The Beermen have become better as soon as they started savoring the goodness of winning championships and for team manager Gee Abanilla, the winning culture brought about by the management from their big boss Ramon S. Ang to their sports director Alfrancis Chua to their board representative Robert Non all the way to the coaches and players, was infectious.
Once they started tasting victory, they would crave for more.
Come Governors’ Cup, they only have one thing in mind and that is to win another one so they could roll out the barrel and drink it until it’s bottom’s up.
Rey Joble has been a sportswriter for 19 years, and has been covering the PBA games for more than a decade. He is a member of the PBA Press Corps and Philippine Sportswriters Association, the oldest journalism group in the country.