The powerhouse San Miguel Beermen are once again on top of the world! Stumbling and falling uncharacteristically at the start of the season’s 2nd conference, San Mig finally stepped on the gas in the playoffs to win pulling away. Yep, despite giving the competition a big enough lead at the start – partida na yan, pare! – the Beermen’s strength simply could not be denied.
And talks are rife of a possible Grand Slam once again.
San Mig isn’t known as the league’s winningest franchise for nothing. With 27 championships (and counting) under its belt, the Beermen have developed a winning culture, a winning organization, and a great fan base to tide it through the storm. Their winning formula is the envy of all the other teams in the PBA today. Similar to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, the San Miguel Beermen has DYNASTY written all over their faces.
For this particular conference, they added a bit of drama in it by almost not even reaching the playoffs. Parading a dud-of-an-import at the start of the conference, San Miguel stumbled out of the gates like a drunk, toting a loser’s 2-5 win-loss slate, with only 4 games to play.
That’s when they decided to wake up from that drunken stupor, and hunker down to work. They booted out their underperforming import and brought in Chris McCullough, a veteran of the NBA wars. Clearly, the Beermen were now ready to roll their sleeves and go to serious work. Enough was enough!
At once, the wheels of change started moving forward. And there was no stopping it. San Mig went on the rampage, stringing up 3 consecutive wins to make it back into the playoffs comfortably. Now up 5-5, they could afford to lose their final elimination round game to Meralco, and still settle for 7th place in the playoff seedings.
Slowly, the Beermen were getting themselves back in shape. That they would lose national player Marcio Lassiter to an injury midway through the conference didn’t really matter much. The SMB bench was simply too deep to even feel the pinch. This even played to San Mig’s advantage in that it would give mainstays Alex Cabagnot, Terrence Romeo, Chris Ross plus promising add-on Von Pessumal more playing time – and thus, more time to jell as a crew.
In fact, SanMig is just so stacked, they could build a second unit, and still compete for the crown. Think about it. With national or ex-nationals players Jun Mar Fajardo, Cabagnot, Romeo, Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, Arwind Santos and Matt Ganuelas, no coach could possibly do any wrong. Even if you take away a first five unit composed of national players, your next five would still have 2 nationals, plus a Ross-Pessumal tandem, plus a Kelly Nabong perhaps. That would still give any team a run for their money.
In the first round of the playoffs, SanMig would then steamroller their way past the 2nd-seeded Northport Batang Pier 2-0. Northport’s lofty second seed was nothing but a mere bleep in the radar screen, as the Beermen finally put on their game faces. Shellacked, and later slaughtered, the Batang Pier would realize that indeed, they were ‘batang-bata pa’ for the Beermen.
This would be followed by a 3-1 thrashing of their 1st conference finals dance partner, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Clearly, the Beermen – just like the NBA’s Golden State Warriors – were outdazzling their opponents with their star-studded line-up.
And then came the finals.
Pitted against veteran Jayson Castro and the TNT KaTropas, the San Mig Beermen would finally show their true colors. The defensive intensity was up by a mile. Their transition game appeared so well-oiled. The physicality, and even the psychological warfare, were constantly in force. In fact, Arwind Santos would get in trouble with his mind games, going beyond limits by using racial slurs to try to unnerve TNT’s valued import, Terrence Jones.
But all that is now water under the bridge. The conference has ended, and it’s been a resounding success. In the end, the Beermen would bend the TNT KaTropas and win the series, 4-2. The San Miguel Beermen are kings once again, clinching the win in convincing fashion. Plus a piece of history as the lowest seeded team to have won a championship.
To San Mig’s management and staff, and to its star-studded team, mabuhay kayo! Bring out the chilled beer and the barbecue. It’s time to party!!!
All photos courtesy of PBA.com.