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PBA: San Mig will go for history

The chance of becoming the PBA’s sixth grand slam winner will either be a blessing or a curse for the San Miguel Beermen when they shoot for a sweep of all three titles this season in the Governors’ Cup set July 19.

San Miguel made it two title wins in a row as it completed a 4-2 series victory over TNT KaTropa to rule the Commissioner’s Cup, moving the PBA’s most successful franchise on the cusp of a rare trifecta.

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Should they end up hoisting the trophy of the season-ending conference, San Miguel joins the 1976 and 1983 Crispa Redmanizers, the 1989 version of the Beermen, the 1996 Alaska Milkmen and 2014 San Mig Super Coffee in the circle of triple-crown winners.

However, history has shown that some teams had succumbed to the big pressure of winning the grand slam, such as the case of the 1975 Toyota Comets, 1977 Crispa Redmanizers, 1985 Great Taste Coffee Makers, 1986 Tanduay Rhum Makers, 1995 Sunkist Orange Juicers, 1998 Alaska Milkmen and 2011 Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.

Regardless, the challenge presents great excitement for Arwind Santos, who is determined to give the Beermen a lasting legacy for this great period that saw them win five titles in the last eight conferences.

“Iba yun. Pag may history ka, kahit matanda ka na, wala ka na sa mundo, patay ka na, isa yun sa mga maalala ng mga taong mahilig magbasketball,” Santos said.

Major stumbling blocks are expected to come in San Miguel’s way. Among the teams capable of foiling the Beermen’s march to immortality are losing Commissioner’s Cup titlist TNT KaTropa, Star Hotshots and defending Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel – the team the Beermen beat in the Philippine Cup finals.

“We know the task that is coming up, not a lot of teams have been able to win that Grand Slam and we’re one championship away,” said Best Player of the Conference winner Chris Ross. “Just like these last two conferences, we’re gonna go in and prepare, work hard. We know the Grand Slam is really hard to get but we’re up for the task.”

Sacrifices are likely to be made once again, like in the Commissioner’s Cup finals when Santos and reigning three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo accepted lesser roles to focus the attention on perimeter play led by Finals MVP Alex Cabagnot, Ross and Marcio Lassiter.

Former Rain or Shine import Wendell McKines will reinforce San Miguel, but faces mounting pressure to perform after Best Import Charles Rhodes made a good account of himself in leading the Beermen to glory.

“(Winning the grand slam is) a long shot so we have to be ready and prepare hard for this conference,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria, who has guided the team to this memorable period since his appointment in 2014.