MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Beer would much rather focus on their upcoming campaign in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup rather than think of a possible Grand Slam.
This, according to San Miguel head coach Leo Austria after the team made an appearance at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel-Manila on Tuesday.
The Beermen successfully defended its crown in the Philippine Cup by beating Magnolia in seven games, making them the only team in the history of the league to win the All-Filipino title five consecutive times.
After that, their focus is now on regaining the Commissioner's Cup championship. SMB won it in 2017, but bowed to Barangay Ginebra in the finals of the same conference last year.
"We're not thinking about the Grand Slam," Austria stressed. "What we're thinking about is the next conference."
"Just one game at a time," added the coach, who was joined by Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Von Pessumal, and import Charles Rhodes in the PSA Forum.
"Everybody wants a Grand Slam, but we have to win another championship in the second conference," Austria also said.
Plenty of pressure is on the returning Rhodes, who was the Best Import when San Miguel won the Commissioner's Cup in 2017.
Although he's aware that they are in for a tough conference, Rhodes assured that he was up to the task.
"It's just another challenge for me," he said. "I feel like every game is going to be competitive."
"I just want to help the team," Rhodes added. "I don't want to think towards the finals. I know if we play hard and have a lot of love, we'll be in the finals, and then we'll go from there."
After Rhodes helped San Miguel win the mid-season conference two years ago, the team's Grand Slam bid was foiled in the playoffs by Barangay Ginebra.
"We know the consequences of thinking about the Grand Slam, and that means you're pressuring yourself," said Austria. "After winning seven championships, why would I pressure myself?"
Rhodes' return gives Austria reason to believe that San Miguel can win back-to-back titles.
"I think alam natin na maraming magagaling na imports na dumating ngayon. But with Charles, we know what happened in 2017. He won the Best Import award," Austria pointed out. "And I'm confident Charles will perform well with our team."
San Miguel won't play its first game until June 5. For now, the players are having a well-deserved break after a difficult title defense in the Philippine Cup.
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