SAN Miguel Beer is in familiar territory, and that’s what keeps Arwind Santos hopeful that they can stay alive in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against TNT KaTropa.
The Beermen lost to the Texters, 101-94, in Game Five of the best-of-seven series on Thursday night and moved on the brink of seeing their two-year reign as all-Filipino champions come to an end.
Santos, though, remains upbeat, knowing his team has come back from bigger deficits in the past.
“Well, medyo sumisikip na 'yung daan namin, pero at least may puwang pa naman,” Santos said. “Puwede pa kaming makapasok.”
Santos tried his best to inspire the Beermen in Game Five as the former league MVP paced the team with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, to go with six boards, and one assist in 34 minutes.
The Beermen nearly erased a 13-point deficit as they pulled within one, 83-82, after a Gabby Espinas and-one play midway through the fourth. But the Texters countered with a 12-5 run of their own behind their veteran core to finish off SMB.
It all boiled down to defense, Santos said.
“Parang one-point na lang nung fourth quarter na yun. Yun yung pinaka crucial doon, yung dikitan na yun,” Santos recounted. “(Pero) hindi na kami naka-catch up.”
“Yung bottom line, yung defense namin nagka-lapse. Kailangan namin magawan ng paraan.”
Now Santos knows the Beermen can't afford to make any more lapses as they fight for dear life in Game Six on Saturday.
His confident, however, boosted by the memory of the team's last all-Filipino championship when they made a historic comeback from a 0-3 finals deficit against Alaska.
“Siyempre yung maganda dito, kahit down kami at malungkot, naniniwala pa rin kami sa isa't isa na kaya naming makabalik,” Santos said.
“So, hangga't may pag-asa pa, gagawin namin. Iba pa rin 'yung lumalaban kami kahit matalo. Lalaban pa rin kami sa next game namin.”
After all, the Beermen have been there, done that.