Defending a dynasty
San Miguel Beer doubled down on its label as the PBA’s greatest franchise when it dabbed another layer of luster to its pedigree after a 72-71 decision of Magnolia in Game 7 of the Philippine Cup Finals at the Big Dome.
Leo Austria and his bevy of stars have helped chisel the Beermen’s legacy on granite with their fifth straight all-Filipino crown—an unprecedented feat.
“I couldn’t imagine this kind of success for my team, [for] myself,” Austria said in the postgame press conference. “I never thought that I would become a PBA coach. I never thought I would become a San Miguel coach, [let alone] win a ‘five-peat.’ But God is really good.”
San Miguel now has nine Philippine Cup crowns and this latest conquest is the hardest since the team needed to crawl out of a 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series against Alaska.
And the Beermen did this by pivoting to defense.
“I wasn’t buying the trend that whenever we are held to under a hundred points, we would lose. We made 72 a winnable score,” Austria said. San Miguel also won Game 6 after scoring only 98 points.
“I guess this is why coaches say ‘defense wins championships,’” he added. “It happened tonight. We’ve been criticized before that we didn’t have defense. Today, the team showed all the things that makes a champion team.”
Veteran Arwind Santos feels the Beermen’s legacy is now safe.
“When the time comes when we’re old and being pushed on wheelchairs, when our grandchildren are already the ones playing basketball, we could tell them that we were the only ones able to do that. That’s San Miguel.”
And they’re not even done.
“It’s harder to play teams with a ‘no-bearing game’ mentality,” he said. “What if we get to compete for another title? We have nothing to lose because we have the ‘five-peat’ already.”
Fair warning then to the other teams: “If we get the chance, we’re definitely going for a ‘six-peat,’” he said.
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