by Jonas Terrado
San Miguel Beer will head into the PBA Philippine Cup Finals not only with a shot of winning an unprecedented fifth straight crown but also regain the swagger after falling in a recent appearance in the league’s biggest stage.
The Beermen’s myth of invincibility was broken in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals when they lost to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in six games, dropping three straight after taking a 2-1 lead.
Questions as to whether SMB’s hold as the PBA’s measuring stick is about to end surfaced immediately after the bitter defeat, but hardly anyone is perhaps entertaining such thought after its semifinal clincher against Phoenix Pulse.
A win against Magnolia or Rain or Shine in the best-of-seven title showdown which begins on May 1, Chris Ross, believes will help San Miguel get its old swagger back.
“We want to get back to our winning ways,” Ross said after Thursday’s 105-94 victory over Phoenix at the Cuneta Astrodome.
“After we lost that finals (against Ginebra), I told the guys that remember how this feels, remember how defeat feels because when we get back to the finals, you don’t want to feel that again.
“And when the next time we get back to the championship, we’ll remember that feeling and we’ll play even harder to get those wins,” added Ross, whose 24 points spiked by six triples helped the Beermen finish off the Fuel Masters.
There’s an air of confidence from Arwind Santos that the Beermen can keep their championship aura even as he admit that their run of dominance is probably close to its last leg.
“Ang maganda dito, itong players ng San Miguel kahit nagkakaedad na, iyong challenge sa bawat isa yung pag kalaban ayaw namin magpatalo kahit sa mga bata o anu man,” Santos said.
“Ang tinitignan namin dito kung ano yung magandang iiwan pa namin hangga’t malakas pa kami sa San Miguel,” added the 37-year-old forward.
The Beermen enter the finals with June Mar Fajardo, Santos, Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Christian Standhardinger and unsung semifinals hero Matt Ganuelas-Rosser in high spirits.
But SMB remains concern about the condition of ace shooter Marcio Lassiter, who hardly played in the semis due to a back problem.