by Waylon Galvez
After winning its fifth straight Philippine Cup title, talks of a possible Grand Slam is once again the favorite topic among loyal San Miguel Beer fans.
Even SMB mentor Leo Austria disclosed that there is clamor again not just from their supporters but also from management to win the league’s version of ‘Triple Crown’ – that is the Grand Slam.
“There is a lot of clamor from the fans and management, that we have to win another championship in the second conference, and then the Grand Slam,” said Austria in yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.
“But we’re not thinking about it (Grand Slam). What we’re thinking is next conference – the Commissioner’s Cup. We’ll take it one game at a time,” said the now seven-time PBA champion mentor.
Austria said he is not even feeling the pressure to deliver a second Grand Slam for the proud franchise after what they have accomplished as a team from the time he took over in 2014.
San Miguel completed a Grand Slam in 1989 – the league’s third season sweep at that time – with legendary players Ramon Fernandez, Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, Alvin Teng, Yves Dignadice, Franz Pumarez, Ato Agustin and Ricardo Brown.
“Why should I pressure my self… seven championships and five straight all-Filipino (titles),” said Austria.
It was only a week ago when San Miguel Beer defeated the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in a classic Game 7 for the Philippine Cup title – the team’s fifth straight championship in an All-Filipino conference, and seventh overall under Austria’s watch.
In the first four Philippine Cup titles of the Beermen, it was only during the 2017 Season that Austria and his team had a legitimate shot at the Grand Slam after they captured the second conference – the Commissioner’s Cup – with Best Import winner Charles Rhodes.
San Miguel, however, failed to complete a Grand Slam when it lost to twice-to-beat and eventual champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the quarterfinal stage of the Governors’ Cup playoffs.