NEVER has San Miguel been under threat this early in the playoffs in its past four all-Filipino championships than now.
And with the Beermen finding themselves in a do-or-die situation against TNT KaTropa in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs, that all the more convinced Arwind Santos that this is bound to be the hardest climb to the summit for the team.
"Tingin ko ito talaga 'yun eh," said Santos following San Miguel's 93-88 Game 2 defeat to TNT on Monday.
The fifth-seeded Beermen failed to close out the best-of-three series as Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, and Troy Rosario helped the No. 4 KaTropa stay alive. But Santos remains optimistic the defending champions can regain control in Game 3 on Wednesday.
"Naka-tie lang sila. Pero ayaw nating maging overconfident sa TNT kasi talagang naghahanda sila sa amin din," he said.
With the first two games of the series decided in the endgame, the 2013 PBA MVP expects nothing less in the decider. San Miguel must learn from its mistakes to be able to overcome the challenge of TNT, Santos said.
"Konting effort lang sa offensive rebounds dahil medyo outrebounded kami. Pero positioning lang," he said after the KaTropa won the battle of the boards, 56 to 49, by dominating the Beermen off the offensive glass, 22 to 15.
"Noong huli, nag-tie kami tapos naka-shoot lang sa corner si [Troy] Rosario at hindi na kami naka-catch up. Yun lang yon. Maliit lang pero dapat hindi kami sumabay sa ganoon, yung dikitan. Hangga't maaari dapat kami sa start pa lang ng laro, nasa amin na yung momentum para nako-control namin at the end of the game."
Not that he's looking too far ahead, but Santos thinks that if San Miguel can survive this challenge from TNT, it would make the five-peat-seeking squad tougher going deeper in the playoffs.
"Sabi nga ng mga coaches namin, pag ito nalagpasan natin, makakatulong ito sa atin sa susunod kasi ito nga yung pagsubok natin, yung TNT. Yung binibigay nilang depensa, malaki ang matutulong nila kapag nalagpasan natin ito," he said.