ANTIPOLO CITY — The final stage to its grand slam journey begins on Saturday for the San Miguel Beermen as they make their PBA Philippine Cup debut at the Ynares Center here against Blackwater.
The 3 p.m. game marks the first return to action of the proud franchise since Game Six of the Commissioner's Cup finals last July 2 when it beat TnT Katropa to win its second straight championship this season.
The feat put the Beermen closer to completing a season sweep of all three conferences, a rare trick the Beermen themselves did back in 1989 under a team backstopped by four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez, Ricky Brown, Samboy Lim, Hector Calma and coached by Norman Black.
From the looks of it, the Beermen are very much motivated to accomplish the job.
"They don't want to give up the glory of winning a championship. That's something you cannot buy," said coach Leo Austria.
San Miguel indeed, is not leaving anything to chance.
Already a dominant force all season, the team has even tapped the services of prolific import Wendell McKines to reinforce its grandslam bid. McKines last suited up for Rain or Shine during the 2015 edition of this same tournament.
A Blackwater side featuring Travis Simpson but winless in two games serves as the initial test of the Beermen in the Petron Saturday Special offering.
Meralco, among the teams considered to give San Miguel a run for its money, takes on Rain or Shine in the 5 p.m. main game where it stakes its unbeaten slate.
The Bolts currently tote a 2-0 record and is fresh from demolishing defending champion Barangay Ginebra last week. A win by them meant tying idle NLEX Road Warriors (3-0) on top of the standings.
The Elasto Painters carry an even 1-1 record after losing to the Road Warriors in double overtime last Wednesday.
An intetesting subplot in the tussle is the bid of Rain or Shine star James Yap to join the 10,00-point club.
The two-time league MVP is just three points short of making the record.