The final buzzer unglamorously sounded on the San Miguel Beermen’s PBA season. No balloons fell from the ceiling of the Mall of Asia Arena. The players on the bench did not run towards the middle of the court. Instead, they held their heads down as they immediately retreated back to their dugout.
The Beermen fell short of a Grand Slam. It was something they had been working on since the start of the season. They only need one more chip. But with one loss to Ginebra, the possibility of achieving that was taken away.
San Miguel had a spectacular run throughout the year. In the Philippine Cup, they practically breezed through the tournament, losing only five times before capturing the title. The only real threat came in the semifinals where they were pushed to a game seven by the TNT KaTropa.
In the Commissioner’s Cup, SMB looked even better. With Charles Rhodes on their side, the Beermen only lost four games the entire conference. And when they met TNT again, this time in the Finals, they made didn’t even allow the series to go the distance. It was over in six games.
But things became a lot tougher in the Governor’s Cup. In the elimination round alone, SMB already lost four games. The last of those losses was a painful one against Meralco. A win would’ve propelled them to a top two finish and a twice-to-beat advantage. But after looking stellar in the first three quarters, they broke down in the fourth and allowed Meralco to bolt back.
The Beermen ended with a 7-4 slate, figuring them in a four-way tie with Star, NLEX and Rain or Shine. And when the quotients were tallied, SMB’s could only buy them the sixth seed entering the playoffs.
That’s how they faced Ginebra in the quarterfinals with a twice-to-win disadvantage. That’s also where the Barangay crushed the Beermen by 20 points, to end the chase for the grand slam.
Just like that, it was over.
For the first time in the season, they’re conference did not end in a celebration.
But what I’m afraid of is that we all put our focus on how San Miguel fell short; that we forget to stand up and applaud them for coming so close. Because that in itself is an accomplishment.
However this Governors’ Cup ends, whichever team brings home the title, San Miguel would have still won two out of the three championships of this season. The fact would still stand that they won five championships over the last nine conferences. At this point, no other team has even gotten to two in that same period.
While feelings of frustration probably linger in the heads of Beermen fans, it’s important for to understand that by no means is this season a failure.
More than those two championships, SMB had two Best Player of the Conference awards and two Finals MVPs. By game four of the Governor’s Cup Finals, the season MVP will also most likely land in the hands of a San Miguel Beerman once more.
A Grand Slam would have been sweet. It would have been the perfect fairy tale ending. But the absence of it will not take anything away from the colorful year that San Miguel had.
A Grand Slam would have been the exclamation point on the success story of the Beermen. But since there isn’t one, I guess that story shall continue.