Mar 19, 2018

So, what's new? San Miguel heavy favorite to win another championship

With its great talents and rich playoff experience, the mighty San Miguel Beer team -- unbeaten in five finals under coach Leo Austria -- will be the heavy favorite as it faces either Magnolia or NLEX in the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven finale.

Still, the Beermen are bracing for the toughest of battles as they're realistic they would not get their aspiration on a silver platter.

"Yung magiging kalaban hindi basta mag-roll over. Kailangan namin kuhanin ang gusto namin ma-achieve," said San Miguel Beer ace behemoth June Mar Fajardo in their quest for an all-Filipino four-peat.

They chase a fourth straight Philippine Cup crown versus a rival that is either out to end a three-year title drought or out to nail a breakthrough championship in the pro league.

The other semi-final series won't be over until either Tuesday or Thursday.

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Fajardo said they will make good use of their breather to rest and recharge in preparation for their sixth final in the last 10 conferences.

"Kailangan namin ihanda ang sarili namin at maging handa. Hindi ibinibigay ang opportunity na ito sa lahat. Meron kaming ganitong opportunity at tratrabahuhin namin para makuha ito," said Fajardo.

San Miguel is the first team to have a crack at a fourth straight championship in a conference since Alaska Milk ruled the Governors Cup from 1994 to 1997.

Back in the finals on a dominant 13-4 win-loss record from the elimination round, SMB top forward Arwind Santos said they must not rest on their laurels.

"Hindi mo masasabi kung hanggang saan ang itatagal ng career mo. May tsansa kami gumawa ng history, magandang huwag sayangin at pagtrabahuhan ng sama-sama," said Santos.

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The 2013 MVP winner is optimistic of their chance for a four-peat or even beyond that.

"It's because we have another good teammate coming and you all know who he is," said Santos, referring to top draft pick Christian Standhardinger.

With a great core group led by Fajardo, Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross, the Beermen are 5-of-5 in PBA finals under Austria, ruling the 2015, 2016 and 2017 editions of the Philippine Cup, the 2015 Governors Cup and the 2017 Commissioner's Cup.

A big one that went away was a chance for a grand slam last season as they fell down in defeat against the Barangay Ginebra Kings in their 2017 Governors Cup Final Four showdown.

Saturday night was payback time for the Beermen as they crushed the Kings' bid for back-to-back championships following their Governors Cup title run.

The Beermen played much steadier in the crunch and pulled off a 100-94 win to close out their series in five games.

"We didn't see them raise the white flag. They came out really strong. But our players refused to lose," said the SMB coach.