Winning the PBA Grand Slam this season is back on the table after San Miguel Beer captured for the third straight time the prestigious Philippine Cup championship.
SMB coach Leo Austria, however, isn’t too hot on the topic, especially after their disappointing campaigns in the previous Commissioner’s Cups – the second gem in the Triple Crown.
“Hindi yan ang focus namin e, lalo na sa nangyari sa amin sa Commissioner’s Cup,” said Austria over the phone when contacted by TEMPO yesterday, two days after leading San Miguel to its fourth championship in three seasons or since he started handling the team in 2014.
“Right now hindi namin pinag-iisipan yan. Dati pinag-isipan namin yan pero ang naging resulta eliminated agad kami sa Commissioner’s Cup. Kaya this time ang nasa isip namin one game at a time.
“Kung darating yang Grand Slam, darating yan. Parang itong third straight Philippine Cup title ng team. One game at a time lang kami, then pinagsikapan namin kaya nakuha ng team,” added Austria.
For winning the Philippine Cup, San Miguel became only the second team to accomplish that feat that gave the Beermen the ‘Perpetual Trophy’ after TNT first did the hat-trick from 2011 to 2013.
In 2015 when SMB won the all-Filipino tournament, league observers started discussing the possibility of the team winning a second Grand Slam after the Beermen made it all the way in 1989 under coach Norman Black – now the mentor of Meralco.
But that team started the second conference with a 0-4 record with an ineffective import Ronald Roberts and never recovered.
AZ Reid came in as a replacement and although he helped San Miguel win four of their last seven games, the 4-7 record wasn’t enough to qualify them to the playoffs.
Last season, the Beermen got a prolific import in Tyler Wilkerson. But he had an outburst in a Game 2 loss to Rain or Shine in the Commissioner’s Cup semifinals, which led to his expulsion from the team.
Although the team staved off elimination by winning Game 3, ROS eliminated them in Game 4 despite the return of Reid.