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Grand Slam beckons SMBeer



The San Miguel Beermen continued their winning tradition, capturing the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup at the expense of the Talk “N Text Katropa only last Friday in Game 6 of their best-of-seven title series.

The Ramon S. Ang-owned franchise, the only remaining original team in the 44-year-history of the professional Philippine Basketball Association, thus, reaffirmed their reputation as the most successful franchise in the history of the pay-for-pay league.

The Beermen raised their title winnings to 27. They, likewise, currently lead the league with the most all-time victories (more than 1,200 wins).

And if the now Crispa Redmanizers earned their status as legend, among others, winning a pair of Grand Slams, the Beermen moved an inch closer to attaining that, too. That SMBeer had already bagged one in 1989 and is, in fact, a mere victory away to claim the honor only the franchise is capable of succeeding.

The Beermen, in addition, had the Perpetual Jun Bernardino Trophy after winning three straight PBA Philippine Cups from 2015 to 2017. They’re, too, the only team to have won at least one PBA title in each of the five numerical decades of the league’s existence.

And don’t forget, they’re also the first professional basketball team in the world ever to come back from a 0–3 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series which they did during the 2015–16 Philippine Cup Finals over Alaska.

In annexing this season’s Commissioner’s Cup, SMBeer had to struggle from a 5-7 start to end up 7th after the elimination round, in the process becoming the the lowest seed squad to win the jewel.

Leo Austria, meanwhile, ties former TNT mentor Chot Reyes for fifth-most titles. The Commish Cup is the ninth straight title for the SMC Group.

Talk of a San Miguel Grand Slam started the moment the team claimed their fifth consecutive Philippine Cup (All-Filipino)and the subsequent Commish Cup, the same situation they were at in the 2017 season.

Their bid, though was thwarted by sister team Barangay Ginebra, which emerged victorious in the Governors’ Cup.

But like in that year, Austria himself admitted the road to another sweep of the season won’t be that easy. The key, he said is for us to get an import that will be a perfect fit for the boys.” .

“Ang import ay malaking role na gagampanan sa Governors Cup’ like in the Commissioner’s Cup. Kailangan we should look for somebody who could play along with the team,” Austria, who won his eighth championship in nine finals appearances with the Beermen, said.

He added, though, that the management has already started negotiating with somebody whose name he doesn’t want to divulge at the moment.

There have only five Grand Slams won in the league’s 44 years — two by legendary team Crispa and one each by Alaska, San Mig Coffee and San Miguel’s 1989 team coached by Norman Black.

“It would really be a distinct honor kung makukuha namin ang Grand Slam because the boys and the management are really longing for it,” Austria said. “Sana nga makuha na.”

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