AS San Miguel Beer becomes even more formidable in the 43rd season of the PBA, coach Leo Austria stressed the emphasis is not on taking another shot at a grand slam but on winning a record fourth straight Philippine Cup championship.
No team in the rich history of Asia’s first ever pro league has won the most prestigious tournament of the PBA four consecutive times - and that's the ultimate goal for Austria and his Beermen.
“We’re not thinking of any grand slam,” said Austria, whose Beermen were ambushed by KIA Picanto, 78-75, in a preseason tune-up match at Claret School on Tuesday.
“You have to win the all-Filipino para mag-qualify ka to win the grand slam. And I think that’s what we have to prepare for.”
Talk of San Miguel again aiming for a sweep of the season came shortly after the ballclub acquired No. 1 overall pick Christian Standhardinger, the talented 6-foot-7 Fil-German who many sees as a perfect complement to four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
San Miguel dominated the Philippine Cup the past three seasons, bringing home the perpetual Emilio ‘Jun’ Bernardino trophy last year.
The Beermen followed up the feat by copping the Commissioner’s Cup crown that moved them on the verge of completing a grand slam, but they were ousted by Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governors Cup to end their dream run.
Now they start all over again.
The Beermen won’t be having Standhardinger in their lineup for the all-Filipino tournament, but remain the prohibitive favorite to run away with the championship anew.
Still, Austria is not taking any chances.
“We really have to work hard (this season) dahil alam naman natin 'yung lahat ng mga teams, they’re trying to build their lineup and trying to do their best na maging competitive,” he pointed out.
“And we should be prepared for that.”