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Wild Card

SMC’s long-running PBA show up

Barring  a major upheaval, the San Miguel Corp. (SMC)  show in the Philippine Basketball Association resumes next month through its three crack teams that have dominated the last 10 tournaments of the pro league starting with the 2016 Governors’ Cup.San Miguel Beer has won five tournaments in that span, Barangay Ginebra captured four and Magnolia one and, as usual, all three powerhouse squads are the three front-runners in the 2020 Philippine Cup that kicks off the league’s 45th season on March 8.

The Beermen would have been the outstanding favorite in their quest for a record sixth straight all-Filipino title had June Mar Fajardo, who is set to be honored with his sixth most valuable player (MVP) award during the opening ceremony,  not injured his right leg in practice. He is now out of action indefinitely.

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Ginebra also lost another key player in 7-footer Greg Slaughter, who opted not to renew his contract to rest, but the Gin Kings remain a major  contender because they boast of a crack nucleus like the  Beermen.

An SMB-Ginebra showdown remains a big possibility, however.

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Fil-Tongan Mo Tautuaa, the 2015 top draft pick, takes over from the 6-10 Fajardo, but he will be getting superb support from explosive guards Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot and Terrence Romeo, shooter Marcio Lassiter and former MVP Arwind Santos.

Without Slaughter, Ginebra  will now rely heavily on high-leaping center Japeth Aguilar,  backcourt aces LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson and prized recruits Stanley Pringle and Jared Dillinger.

Magnolia, meanwhile, will be fielding the same solid lineup that gave SMB its biggest headache in the last two all-Filipino title series. After getting clobbered in the 2018 finals, 4-1, the Hotshots dragged the Beermen to a seventh game the next year before bowing out, 72-71. The SMC franchise, the lone remnant among nine outfits that launched the PBA in 1975, had actually prevailed, through its three teams, in 16 of the last 18 tournaments starting with its second PBA  Grand Slam effort in 2014  through San Mig Coffee. The first SMC sweep of all three titles for the year came in 1989 courtesy of another San Miguel Beer squad.

And in what  actually looked like another “Slam,” SMB, Ginebra and Magnolia took turns in ruling the Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup in 2018.

Only Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine had managed to break through SMC’s 18-tournament juggernaut with the then Texters topping the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup and the Elasto Painters taking over as champs in the same event the following year. INQ

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TAGS: Philippine Basketball Association, San Miguel Corp. (SMC), Wild Card
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