Last 2 dynasties collide
Aside from San Miguel Beer winning the PBA Philippine Cup in the last three seasons, there has been one thing very consistent in the Finals of all those years—and in the one that starts Friday night, when the Beermen gun for an unprecedented fourth straight crown.
San Miguel will enter the best-of-seven series again the overwhelming favorite, never mind if the Beermen will be playing a Magnolia squad that owns one of the more balanced rosters in the league that can match, albeit slightly, the Beermen’s depth.
June Mar Fajardo has been the most dominant one-man force in the league—and he has a personal stake in these Finals. He will be surrounded by a starting unit that is without doubt one of the best in league history.
Superstar Magnolia guard Paul Lee, jokingly or otherwise, summed up how big a task he and his Hotshots will start facing in two days when he told reporters on Tuesday night “we hope to win one, or two games.”
But a warning from the battle-toughened: “It wouldn’t be bad if we win four (games).”
San Miguel’s dynasty started just after Magnolia’s ended in 2014, when the team then known as San Mig Coffee won a total of four straight titles and eventually the league’s fifth Grand Slam.
It was in that season’s Governors’ Cup—the last jewel of the Triple Crown sweep—that San Miguel started its ascent after losing in the championship series.
And Fajardo clearly remembers that Finals defeat.
“I cried after losing that series,” Fajardo, then a rookie, said in Filipino during the pre-Finals press conference on Wednesday. “I destroyed my PC (personal computer) at home in frustration. My parents saw me cry.”
“I want to win this one and get back at them (Hotshots) so I can buy a new PC,” he said with a smile.
History will be the biggest driving force for San Miguel here as a fourth straight championship will immortalize this team.
And, though it may be too early to say, winning the Philippine Cup would put the Beermen on track for another shot at a Grand Slam after sputtering in the Governors’ Cup last season and letting the chance slip by.
And that, folks, makes them the more dangerous team in this series.
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