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