Laban, San Mig!
These are the words that always come to my mind whenever my favorite ball club plays against any team. From eliminations up to the playoffs, the level of excitement in seeing them always hits the boiling point. I can’t remember the exact time when I fell in love with this team. I’m not sure if it was when I saw James Yap hitting his clutch baskets, or when I got the chance to watch PJ Simon play off the bench then will be the best player of the game, or when I followed the development of Marc Pingris from being a role player to a national weapon for Gilas, or when I heard the news that my favorite coach, Tim Cone, will call the shots for this team. Damn! I still feel those kiligs whenever I try to recall those memories. You know that it’s special if until now, you still feel the same kilig whenever you remember your precious moments with your dearest one.
The question of when did I fall for this team is not important. For me, what’s worth sharing is the reason why I love San Mig Coffee. Why do I love this team in spite of all their heartbreaking losses in the past? Why do I love this team even though its name has been changed twice already? My reason is simple. I see myself in every campaign of San Mig. The team has its fair share of ups and downs and so have I.
I am the type of person who is aware of what I can do. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about being boastful. I’m just satisfied with what is happening to me. I didn’t need to move out of my comfort zone. I must call it COMPLACENCY. To connect this with San Mig, allow me to go back to the PBA’s 2011 Philippine Cup when B-Meg (it was still the team’s name that time) was at the top of the team standings and just like what everyone expected, they finished first after the elimination round. Tim Cone’s first coaching stint in B-Meg was labeled as brilliant because of how he managed to bring back the team’s winning tradition. The pressure was everywhere and it kept on getting worse while they were moving close to the day of Game 1 of the Quarterfinals. B-Meg was about to face the number 8 seeded team, Powerade Tigers. They had the twice to beat advantage in that series. They eventually got defeated that night. I accepted that loss and just said, “Wala lang yan. Baka matagal lang napahinga kaya nangalawang. Kukunin namin yan sa Linggo.” Sunday night came. I decided to stay at home and watch the do or die game between the two. I was so happy with how my team played the triangle offense and how they operated on defense. I was comfortably sitting on the couch until the end of the third quarter. The final quarter came like I needed to survive a powerful storm that I didn’t see coming. Good Lord! Powerade made a big rally to put the game on the line and suddenly, fuck! The game went on to a deciding overtime period. B-Meg’s huge lead was blown away and they were booted out by the opposing team after the extension. It broke my heart, big time. Just to describe how my heart got broken, I still can’t watch the replay of that game until now. COMPLACENCY. That’s how I always describe in simplest way the reason why my team lost that series. It went to every player’s head that they were in the best team but forgot the reason of their campaign’s success.
But we believe in bouncing back. Coach Tim Cone believed that it had to happen for his team to mature, for his team to have trust in each other, for his team to know what the real winning ways mean. We bounced back in the Commissioner’s Cup. B-Meg acquired Denzel Bowles, a sweet shooting player from the United States who can do everything in the court. It was not hard for the team to win every game but they won the needed ones. I was so exultant when the team that was eliminated last conference bounced back strongly to go to the finals and face the defending champions, Talk n Text. I knew how hard the series would be because the team that B-Meg would be facing was a championship caliber team under a very experienced coach.
The series went down the wire. A lot of storyline have been made including suspensions, fines, Chot Reyes publicly calling out his players, blaming tactics, Tim Cone falling down when bumped by the referee etc. But one biggest moment of this series will forever be remembered by lots of PBA fans. I’m talking about the Game 7. B-Meg was down by 13 when the team went on to an onslaught and fought back to cut down Talk n Text’s lead to just 2. Time was not on B-Meg’s side but the possession was theirs. Tim Cone calmly used his timeout to draw a play for his ace player, James Yap. During that play, everybody was up on their feet. James Yap couldn’t shoot the ball but he rebounded it and went to the three point area. Many thought that he will try to shoot the ball again including myself but his unselfish instinct made him pass the ball to the cutting Denzel Bowles but he was not able to shoot the ball, too. When the time expired, Mico Halili, the great sports commentator who was covering that game alongside Quinito Henson and Jojo Lastimosa was halfway in announcing that the champions were Talk n Text but a referee was making his presence felt while these things were happening. He called a foul on Kelly Williams after pushing Bowles while taking the shot. B-Meg was down by two and the team needed Bowles to make his free throws to be able to bring the game to overtime. Those pair of free throws were the best that I’ve seen in my whole fucking life. Denzel Bowles made the free throws. We went into overtime!
During the overtime, B-Meg was on a killer instinct, making their triangle offense effective and giving the opponent a suffocating defense. CHAMPIONS! That was what the people told B-Meg after the final buzzer sounded. That was one of the proudest moments of my life as a sports fan. B-Meg proved that they can bounce back and win it all. Thanks for that sweet championship! This has brought back the motivation in me. This championship became an inspiration.
The ups and downs are not yet over though. This team needed to stay together.