By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE San Miguel Beermen further lionized themselves as a franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after making history on Friday by winning their fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup title.
It marked the first time in league history that a team has accomplished such feat while padding the Beermen’s distinction as the “gold standard” in the PBA, punctuated by 25 championships all-time, six of which coming in the last 10 conferences.
And for key stalwarts of the team, the success they have been reaping of late is a product, among other things, of the special bond they have built as a group during the course of time.
“Man, this group is unbelievable. The amount of players we have and the mixture that we have, we show composure and grit, putting us in position to take on any challenge,” said San Miguel sharp-shooter Marcio Lassiter when asked by BusinessWorld of how special their group is following their 108-99 double-overtime victory over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in Game Five of their best-of-seven finals series on April 6 that gave them the All-Filipino title anew.
“We are not gonna back down. Together we will fight back in anyway we can, through our offense or defense. We just have a great group of guys and that’s all that matters. We all love each other. We like to fight for one another, from the starters to the people off the bench. On the floor, it’s all us,” added Mr. Lassiter, who finished with 16 points to go along with four assists in the title-clincher.
It is the same position that another key cog, Arwind Santos, takes special pride in, leading him to consider himself very lucky to be part of the team.
“How special this team is sometimes hard to explain. We are blessed that our team is complete. In every position you can make a case that they are the best in what they do,” said Mr. Santos in a separate interview.
“But what really makes us click is how special our relationship is as a group. If I was a rookie, I would love to play for this team. We love to play for each other. We know what each other can do and feed off that. The support and love for one another as brothers is there. It’s truly a family here for us,” added the former league most valuable player who wound up with 23 points and 11 rebounds in Game Five.
Mr. Santos also drained the key three-pointer late in regulation that sent the match into overtime.
In winning the title, the Beermen relied on a strong finishing kick after trailing for much of the contest and going down by as much 16 points in the payoff quarter.
Using a 13-0 run as the fourth quarter wound up, San Miguel put it in a position to snatch the win.
Magnolia had its chances to win and extend the series but the Beermen proved to be the steadier team as the match wore on and were awarded with the title in the end, winning the series, 4-1.
Best player of the conference and finals most valuable player June Mar Fajardo led San Miguel with a monster double-double of 42 points and 20 rebounds while guard Chris Ross had a near quadruple-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and eight steals.
The PBA returns next for the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup, which kicks off on April 22.