No Grand Slam for SMB
By Al S. Mendoza
THE talk of the town is San Miguel Beer.
Why, because it lost a lot in the last few days.
The losses were heart-tugging, if not mind-blowing as in crazy.
First, SMB stumbled into two imports turning out to be lemons.
As in all import-flavored Conferences, the import is the heart and soul of every team.
The ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup is no exception.
While practically all 12 PBA teams had stuck to their original imports, not San Miguel Beer.
SMB had Wendell McKinis as its first import. He was a dud.
Next came Tarik Bridgeman.
He was even worse, scoring only 2 and 4 points, respectively, in his first two games with SMB.
Enter Terrence Watson.
Debuting with 26 points, Watson helped snap SMB’s three-game losing streak while also leading the Beermen to a three-game winning run.
But, alas, in SMB’s crucial game against Meralco for his fourth game with the Beermen, Watson flunked the test.
He failed to help deflect SMB’s defeat with a below-par performance against the Bolts.
A most crucial moment in that game for Watson was when he allowed his fellow import Allen Durham to put a missed shot back for Meralco’s 104-101 victory.
The win put Meralco on top of the eliminations while sending San Miguel Beer from the top to sixth in the eight-team quarterfinal cast.
With that totally unexpected funky finish, the Beermen were pitted against the ever dangerous Barangay Ginebra.
That would have been avoided easily had San Miguel Beer—and Watson—played sanely against Meralco.
Leading by 18 points, the Beermen would transform from fierce combatants to meek warriors in a totally bizarre development uncharacteristic of SMB.
In short, SMB literally blew away a won-game against Meralco that would have pitted the Beermen against the eliminations’ No. 8 aka tailender—an easy job absolutely.
Thus, facing the unfamiliar position of having to beat No. 3 Ginebra twice to advance to the semifinals, SMB, rattled by now and weighed down by the slew of bad breaks and disappointing collapses, totally disintegrated.
SMB lost Game 1 by 30 points, giving Ginebra an easy passage to the semifinals.
With their shocking exit, SMB, the top seed, absorbed its biggest blow in the season: Missing a rare chance to win the Grand Slam.
For, after winning the first two Conferences, San Miguel Beer was heavily deemed to pocket the Slam it first won in 1989.
But then came the obstacles, mainly man-made (choosing the wrong imports successively) and employing wrong rotations in crucial games against Meralco and Ginebra.
Well, the only saving grace now for the Beermen is, even with SMB’s ouster, June Mar Fajardo’s fourth straight MVP award seems not in serious jeopardy.
Besides leading the pack in the current conference’s statistical points, Fajardo has won MVP plums in the last two conferences as well.
That’s not something to sneeze at.