After making history as the first ever team to rise from a 0-3 series deficit and win a title, the San Miguel Beermen will immediately return to practice on Monday.
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria announced that his wards would immediately prepare for the import-laden Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioners Cup that will start on February 10 at the Araneta Coliseum.
“I hope the boys will understand what happened to us last year after winning the Philippine Cup and I don’t like that to happen again,” Austria said after SMB won Game 7 of the Philippine Cup against Alaska (96-89) on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Beermen, after winning the Philippine Cup last season, were eliminated in the succeeding conference, the Commissioner’s Cup with a pitiful 4-7 win-loss record. Austria wants to make sure that it will not happen again.
San Miguel Beer bounced back by winning the third conference – the Governors Cup, also against Alaska. San Miguel Beer was led by import Arizona Reid in that conference.
“We forgot last year that there was an upcoming conference [Commissioners Cup] because we enjoyed too much our Philippine Cup victory at that time. It was our first Philippine Cup crown since 2001. We have to keep the intensity and improve more this Commissioners Cup,” he added.
The 6’8 forward Tyler Wilkerson, a Marshall standout in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association senior basketball will be San Miguel Beer’s import in the coming Commissioners Cup.
The 27-year-old Wilkerson is already in the country since the Philippine Cup finals and had witnessed San Miguel Beer’s epic comeback.
San Miguel Beer lost the first three games in the finals to Alaska but spectacularly bounced back to retain the crown by winning the last four games of the series.
“This is the sweetest championship experience I’ve ever had in my entire basketball career,” said forward Arwind Santos, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in Game 7. “We’re already dead but we came out alive to win the series.”
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) officer Alfrancis Chua said that SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Ang showed calm when the Beermen were down 0-3.
“Sir RSA [Ramon S. Ang] doesn’t doubt the ability of his players and he believes in them. Despite being down 0-3, he told the players that they would still win the title. And it happened. That’s how he trusted them. He has faith on his players,” said Chua.