[Editors' note: With this piece, SPIN.ph bares the ninth member of our Top 10 Sports Heroes of 2017 leading up to the announcement of our 2017 Sportsman of the Year]
WINNING two of three PBA titles in the same year is no easy task. But the San Miguel Beermen sure made it look effortless in 2017.
The Beermen rolled past the competition right from the start last season, becoming only the second team to take home the Jun Bernardino trophy — a rare reward given only to those who’ve ruled the all-Filipino conference for three straight years. The Commissioner’s Cup was no different, with San Miguel Beer winning the midseason tournament crown with ease.
Yet despite falling short in its Grand Slam bid, bowing to eventual champs Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup quarterfinals, one cannot deny how special a season it was for San Miguel.
What made it more special was how the Leo Austria-coached ballclub sustained its dominance not just by leaning on four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, but on its ‘Fab Five’ starting unit. In each of their two title runs, a different member of the Beermen’s starters took home top individual honors like Best Player of the Conference (Fajardo for Philippine Cup, Chris Ross for Commissioner’s Cup) and Finals MVP (Ross in the all-Filipino conference, Alex Cabagnot in the midseason tournament).
By season’s end, the PBA recognized just how great this team was with Marcio Lassiter the only SMB starter not named to the Mythical Five selection.
Such year-long brilliance is hard to miss, and when SPIN.ph started a poll for the Readers’ Choice award to join the ranks of the 2017 Sports Heroes, sports fans were also quick to recognize SMB’s great season.
The Beermen stood head and shoulders above the rest when pitted against the accomplishments of the other candidates like top college basketball stars Isaac Go and Ricci Rivero, along with the UAAP women’s volleyball titleholder La Salle and first-time UAAP Cheerdance champion Adamson Pep Squad.
Here’s the breakdown of the votes: