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San Miguel Beer rewrites history


By Al S. Mendoza


ONE of the hardest things to achieve is creating history.

Cory Aquino made history in 1986 when she became the first woman to get elected President of the Philippines.

Hilary Clinton will do the same trick if she proceeds to win the US presidential election in November.

No woman has ever become president of America, the world’s most powerful country.

In Philippine sports, we have yet to win a first ever gold medal in the Olympic Games.

In August this year, we will try again.

But you know what?

As I have always said, it is only in boxing that we can truly have a golden shot.

But as to our chances of bagging an Olympic boxing gold?

Almost slim and none.

Olympic competition is so fierce that only a miracle, almost, can make us win a gold.

We had our first genuine shot at an Olympic boxing gold in the 1964 Tokyo Olympiad.

But our Anthony Villanueva lost it to Russian Stanislav Stephaskin.

So close was that fight that, in the end, our Filipino ringside announcer, the late and lamented Joe Cantada, shouted, “We wuz robbed of victory!”

Our golden chance came again 32 years later—in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

But our Onyok Velasco bowed to a Bulgarian, sending a gold-hungry nation to grief once more.

We will go at it again in Rio de Janeiro in August.

And, even if our chances are almost slim and none, still no surrender.

In boxing, there is always a chance.

Every fighter has a knockout punch.

It is that punch that we eternally pin our hopes on.

But in other disciplines?

Not just slim and none but, well, sadly, none—written in capital letters, if you will.

We’ve been that behind in world sports that even an Olympic bronze has become as unreachable as that “star” in that immortal song, “Impossible Dream.”

Now, we go to basketball, our national sporting passion.

There was history that San Miguel Beer had just etched in granite:  Win the PBA All-Filipino title by 4-3 in a best-of-seven series.

It was historic because by erasing a 0-3 deficit against Alaska, San Miguel Beer became the first team to sweep the next four games and pocket the nation’s most prestigious basketball crown.

That feat was never achieved even in the NBA, giving San Miguel Beer the enviable distinction of being the first team in the world to carve it.

How Alaska could bungle it after mightily winning the first three games and needing just one more win in the next four games will remain a puzzle for the ages, especially for Alaska coach Alex Compton.

But for Leo Austria, the SMB coach, he called it a “victory for my players who believed in my system all the way.”

Indeed, at times, if not most times, it is in believing that things will happen despite the toughest of odds.

Thus, the four straight wins that made San Miguel champion will be a hot topic of conversation for a long, long time.

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