'Hurt­ing' SMB points to 'great year' af­ter Grand Slam bid crashes

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Prime Sports -

MANILA--San Miguel Beer’s dreams of win­ning the sec­ond Grand Slam in fran­chise his­tory ended with a whim­per on Wed­nes­day, as they suc­cumbed to sis­ter team Gine­bra, 104-84, in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the PBA Gov­er­nors’ Cup.

With­out a doubt, it was a dis­ap­point­ing end to what had been a su­perb sea­son for the pow­er­house team. They had won a third con­sec­u­tive All-Filipino Cup, then found the per­fect fit in im­port Charles Rhodes en route to the Com­mis­sioner’s Cup ti­tle.

Yet their Gov­er­nors’ Cup cam­paign was a roller-coaster, as they could not find the right re­in­force­ment for the squad. In­juries to star cen­ter June Mar Fajardo also ham­pered their cause. In the fi­nal day of the elim­i­na­tion round, the Beer­men squan­dered a huge lead against Mer­alco and fell all the way to the No. 6 seed, putting them in a match-up with the twice-to­beat Gin Kings.

They sim­ply had no an­swer for Gine­bra on Wed­nes­day, with the Gin Kings de­ter­mined not only to stop SMB’s Grand Slam cam­paign, but also to keep on de­fend­ing their Gov­er­nors’ Cup crown. With Justin Brown­lee run­ning ram­pant, the Gin Kings won in a rout.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said SMB point guard Chris Ross. “We got to within eight, but we couldn’t get over the hump. Credit to them, they played well. Coach Tim (Cone), I’m sure he watched a lot of our game from the last game, and he de­vised a game plan to at­tack the way we played them.”

The Beer­men would not deny that they were hurt­ing from the de­feat. Team cap­tain Ar­wind San­tos, as ex­pected, had the per­fect anal­ogy for how they felt at the mo­ment.

“Parang `yung tinanim mo, alam mo na ikaw ang aani, (pero) hindi mo naani,” he ex­plained. “Ga­nun kasakit `yun eh. Parang lugi ka, parang nasayang. Parang mas gu­gus­tuhin mong bi­nagyo na lang, at least natang­gap mo na ka­ga­gawan ng bagyo.”

Nev­er­the­less, the Beer­men also made a point of not­ing that de­spite the lost chance for a triple crown, it was still a very suc­cess­ful sea­son for them.

“Ting­nan na lang natin `yung pos­i­tive side,” said Fajardo. “Nanalo kami noong unang dalawang con­fer­ences.”

“Just be­cause we didn’t win the Grand Slam doesn’t mean that we didn’t have a great year,” said Ross. “We had a great year, we won two con­fer­ences.”

Ross went on to note that the Beer­men have ruled five of the last nine con­fer­ences. “That’s over 50% win­ning cham­pi­onships,” he pointed out. “It’s not a fail­ure.”

“We didn’t reach our ul­ti­mate goal, but… our sea­son’s not a fail­ure,” Ross stressed.

San­tos, for his part, noted that other teams did not even get a sin­gle ti­tle. Who are they to com­plain, when they had two in one sea­son?

“At least kami, two of three,” he said. “Not bad.”

“Kung lagi-lag­ing ganoon ang mangya­yari – masak­tan kami, basta two of three, so­brang thank you kami,” he added.

Be­ing de­nied of a Grand Slam should only fuel San Miguel as they try for an un­prece­dented fourth con­sec­u­tive All-Filipino crown next year.

“Move on na lang,” said Fajardo. “Next con­fer­ence, bawi kami. Pwede kami mak­abuo ng his­tory – four straight na All-Filipino Con­fer­ence.”

“We’ve been the best team in the PBA for the last three or four years,” Ross said. “Just be­cause we fell short to­day doesn’t mean that we’re still not the best team. I think a lot of peo­ple think that we’re still the best team in the PBA, re­gard­less of our short­com­ings this con­fer­ence.”

“We’re ea­ger to get go­ing in the All-Filipino,” he guar­an­teed. “We want to take the rest and rest our bodies, be­cause it’s been a long year.”

“We need to rest our bodies, come back, and de­fend our crown.” Abs-cbn­news

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