Manila Bulletin

From unbeatable to invincible? Greatest team of all time in the horizon for powerhouse SMB


The San Miguel Beermen could enhance their status as one of the greatest teams of all-time with rookie Christian Standhardi­nger set to make his much-anticipate­d debut in the PBA Commission­er’s Cup which starts later this month.

Standhardi­nger is expected to immediatel­y suit up after completing his duties with Hong Kong Eastern in the ASEAN Basketball League, and the Beermen have already expressed optimism as to how his presence will play a major role in their quest to win more championsh­ips.

“Basta naniniwala kami na si Christian, maa-adopt niya siguro yung samahan dito,” said Arwind Santos after San Miguel completed its march to a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup crown with a comefrom-behind 108-99 double overtime win over Magnolia two nights ago at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Kami naman, di kami mahirap pakisamaha­n at susuportah­an din namin si Christian,” added Santos.

Coach Leo Austria, who won a sixth crown after the Beermen’s 4-1 victory over the Hotshots in the Finals, will later deal with the dilemma of how to make the FilGerman fit in the team’s grand scheme of things.

Standhardi­nger will form a Twin Tower combinatio­n with June Mar Fajardo, the CignalPBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player after producing 42 points and 20 rebounds in Game 5, while also trying to mesh with the rest of San Miguel’s vaunted starting five comprised of Santos, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter.

“I think sabi ng iba, it will become a problem for our team. Sabi ko, probably, but it is a good problem for us,” said Austria, referring to constant criticisms of San Miguel being too reliant on its starters.

Lassiter, on the other hand, said that Standhardi­nger’s addition should give the Beermen more reason to strive harder as they now begin to ponder their place in PBA history.

“You gotta show and play,” he said. “I don’t think on paper you can win games, you gotta put the work in and I’m sure he’ll understand that he’s played all over the world, I guess.”

The Beermen joined the Crispa Redmanizer­s as the only PBA teams to win the tournament originally dubbed as All-Filipino Conference four straight times. It was also the franchise’s sixth title in 10 conference­s, an impressive feat for such a short amount of time.

Their thirst for greatness has never wavered despite the latest addition to their large collection of championsh­ip trophies at the San Miguel head office.

“Yung legacy, yung mga history, gusto naming kunin e,” Santos said. “Tinignan namin mga kalaban namin e. Kayang-kaya. Kahit kung tinitignan mo lineup namin, kahit papaano, hindi naman masama mangarap. So kami nangangara­p, at the same time, di lang namin pinapangar­ap, pinagtatra­bahuhan namin.”

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