The old reliable team. That’s San Miguel Beer (SMB) once again after it dethroned the usually hard-to-oust Barangay Ginebra on Sunday (Jan. 28, 2024).
With new SMB coach George Gallent doing it so well, the road’s rosy for him, it seems, as he guides the Beermen back to glory.
The counter-sweep was a big deal for Gallent as it avenged SMB’s embarrassing 0-3 loss to Ginebra in the last Governors’ Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Undoubtedly, it was clear to the 15,126 crowd that the Beermen’s broom would humiliate the Gin Kings at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
SMB’s new-found power stems from the team’s obvious rebuilding process, recruiting the likes of Don Trollano and Jeron Teng.
The return to active duty of Beerman June Mar Fajardo (wrist injury), the seven-time Most Valuable Player, more than augmented the lethal ways of import Bennie Boatwright.
Boatwright, who replaced the not-so-bad Ivan Aska, is your so-called complete package. He can cut the lane. He can rebound. And, take this, he can shoot from both near and far.
Thus, even Ginebra’s hardcore followers seemed convinced — their silence was deafening in a usually noisy Sunday — that San Miguel’s putting away the best-of-five semifinals in three lackadaisical games had appeared as real as the apple in the Garden of Eden.
After a seeming cruise in dispatching Ginebra in the first two games, San Miguel finalized, formalized, the ouster as the Beermen bagged a series-clinching Game 3, 94-91, behind Boatwright and a lineup so rich it can easily be likened to a virginal gold mine.
Boatwright now holds an enviable 7-0, win-loss record. Easily, he is, admittedly, tasked to anchor San Miguel’s aim to nail a 30th PBA title in 44 Finals appearances since it became a founding member of the league in 1975.
The Beermen presently enjoy the luxury of a lengthy rest as they await the winner of the Magnolia-Phoenix series that goes to a Game 4 on Wednesday, Jan. 31, because of the Hotshots’ own undoing on Sunday.
Ahead by 21 points, Magnolia’s meltdown for the ages gave the Fuel Masters a stunning 103-85 win to cut the Hotshots’ lead to 2-1.
In the PBA — and in every league for that matter — uncertainty seems to be the name of the game.