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Grand-slam staring SMB in the eye

There are clamors for the San Miguel Beermen to go for grand slam or a record sixth straight all-Filipino championship.

But for Beermen head coach Leo Austria, the team will not be thinking about that when they start practicing on Monday to prepare for the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.

“After winning seven championships and five all-Filipino conferences, why should I pressure myself? But there’s a clamor from the fans and from the management. That’s their wish,” said Austria.

SMC President Ramon S. Ang makes a toast to his Beermen players, who captured a fifth straight Philippine Cup title. Peter Atencio
Austria talked about the Beermen’s journey to their fifth straight Philippine Cup crown yesterday during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Ermita, Manila.

The Beermen will just take it one game at a time for now, according to Austria, as the team will now be preparing for their first game on June 5 against the Northport Batang Pier team.

This time, they will play with import Charles Rhodes, who helped the team win the mid-season crown two years ago.

The Beermen mentor said the management has not directly asked them to go for a grand-slam, which could take its toll on the team, physically.

“With our experience, we know the consequence of thinking of the grand-slam,” added Austria.

Sister team Magnolia, known before as the San Mig Coffee Mixers, was the last team to win a grand slam, pulling it off back during the 2013-14 season.

During Monday’s victory party at the SMC Headquarters in Mandaluyong, no less than Chairman Ramon Ang himself asked the Beermen to seek the grand-slam before celebrations began.

“Ang hiling ko sa inyo, isang grand-slam lang. Naniniwala ako na tuluy-tuloy ang ating tagumpay kapag tinuloy natin ang samahang ito. Dahil ang samahan ng Beermen ay walang kapantay,” said Ang.

The San Miguel Beermen have already made history in the PBA with five straight title runs in the league’s most prestigious tournament.

The Crispa Redmanizers had an all-Filipino four-peat but, finished outside the Top Three during their chase for a fifth crown in 1984.

During Game 7 of the recent Philippine Cup, June Mar Fajardo and his teammates overcame an error-strewn first half as the Beermen nipped the fierce-fighting Magnoliae, 72-71, to stretch their PBA Philippine Cup reign to five years.

Fajardo grabbed a league all-time high 31 rebounds and put in 17 points to make up for nine turnovers, while Alex Cabagnot drilled in crucial shots at endgame to finish with 18 points.

Topics: San Miguel Beermen , grand slam , all-Filipino championship , head coach Leo Austria , Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup
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