Asian tourney puts SMB, TNT on course for rematch
Just a month after San Miguel Beer’s drama-filled conquest of TNT in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that further added coal to the burning feud between two rival conglomerates, the two teams could be on a collision course anew.
The Beermen and the KaTropa—along with the Blackwater Elite—are scheduled to participate in a Macau tournament along with other ballclubs from Asia, and coach Leo Austria has made it clear they are not in it merely as tourists.
“We always want to be a winner and we don’t want to go out there and get humiliated by our opponents,” Austria said on Tuesday during the team’s victory party.
The tournament will also give fans an early look at the squad that will try to win the Governors’ Cup—and a second franchise Grand Slam for San Miguel. Reinforcing the Beermen are former Columbian import Lester Prosper and Dez Wells, who will spearhead the team’s bid for the Triple Crown.
“If we have the opportunity to win the title, we will certainly go for it,” Austria said.
And that could put San Miguel in the path of TNT, which hopes to rebound from the recent Finals loss and frustrate San Miguel’s bid for a season sweep.
Joining the Philippine squads are three teams from the Chinese Basketball Association, four from Japan’s B.League and two from the Korean Basketball League.
The tournament, called Terrific 12 East Asia Super League, kicks off on Sept. 17.
After that, the Beermen will focus on their Governors’ Cup campaign hoping to become just the second franchise to win the Grand Slam twice, after the fabled Crispa Redmanizers.
“I would just like to remind [the team of] a simple wish of mine, a Grand Slam,” said Roberto “Bobby” Huang, president of San Miguel Brewery Inc., in Filipino during the victory party.
San Miguel came close to a season sweep in 2017 but faltered in the season-ending conference, where it was chased off by eventual champion Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals.
“When you win two championships, there’s a tendency to relax and that happened to us in 2017,” Austria said. “This time, we have another chance and I hope the team has learned its lesson.”
“The players don’t want to stop winning. They’re not that old and can still do it. Before, they’ve been criticized that they’re aging players but time and time again, they’ve been able to show that they can still compete with the young guys and how important experience is in winning the championship.”
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