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    After long avoiding talk of grand slam, SMB now embracing daunting challenge

    Jul 3, 2017
    SMB coach Leo Austria, team governor Robert Non, and the players celebrate their second championship of the season. Jaime Campos

    SAN Miguel Beer has long avoided talk of a grand slam like a plague.

    But now that they’re a conference away from capturing the rare feat, the Beermen are embracing the daunting challenge of achieving a feat only five teams have accomplished in the PBA's 42 years.

    “We know the task that is coming up,” SMB star playmaker Chris Ross said. “Not a lot of teams have been able to win that grand slam and we're one championship away.”

    “Just like these last two conferences, we're gonna go in and prepare, work hard,” he added. “We know the grand slam is really hard to get but we're up for the task.”

    The Beermen are aiming to become the first team to win the rare feat since the 2014 Purefoods/San Mig Coffee squad, and the second to win the championship hat-trick twice after Crispa.

    The pioneering franchise first won a grand slam in 1989 with a team coached by Norman Black and led by cage greats Mon Fernandez, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, and Samboy Lim.

    [See Time to party for Beermen. See PHOTOS]

    SMB coach Leo Austria, as usual, refused to think that far ahead, but is slowly opening up about their chances of further cementing their status as one of the dominant teams in the league.

    “We're not thinking yet of the grand slam because we're celebrating this,” Austria said. “It's in the mind of so many people and we're the only team (capable for now), but it's a long shot so we have to be ready and prepare hard for this conference.”

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    “There are so many teams na nag-build up ng team nila and they're almost there, but the experience is there, they know how to win, they understand how to win,” he was quick to add of his wards. “In a situation like this, they understand what to do.”

    Despite winning five championships over the last eight conferences, Ross insisted the Beermen remain motivated as ever.

    “Winning never gets old,” the do-it-all court general said. “When you win a championship, you always want that feeling. We know that feeling, we won five out of eight championships and those three conferences that we didn't win, everyone was down.”

    “Once you reach that mountaintop, every chance you get you wanna get there,” he added. “We're trying to win as many as we can.”

    And collecting championships should be the expectation for a loaded SMB side that’s in the peak of its powers.

    “That's always the goal for us, every conference that we get ready for, anything less than a championship is a failure,” Ross said.

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    SMB coach Leo Austria, team governor Robert Non, and the players celebrate their second championship of the season. Jaime Campos
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