So Wendell McKines is tasked to send San Miguel to their second grand slam. I don’t know how he’ll do it, but the rest of the league wants him to choke. I know the word “choke” is a harsh term but for a team that has won five of the last eight conferences, you can’t blame the other teams for asking lady luck to get indifferent with the Beermen.
So let me count the ways.
Numbers Don’t Lie
The reason why McKines has multiple PBA stints is because of his efficiency. The guy is a contributor – no question. But unlike during the olden times, an import is money well spent if he meshes perfectly with his teammates. Ever since legendary mentor Ron Jacobs introduced Jeff Ward, imports are graded based on their capabilities of not becoming Renaldo Balkman clones (at least Balkman has reportedly changed). McKines’ scoring averages is possibly on the 25 to 30 range but what he needs to make sure is his rebounding. The one fine thing about Mr. Wensday is his PBA career average of 15.0 rebounds per game. June Mar Fajardo is going to see more time this conference (as he somewhat took a sabbatical with Charles Rhodes around) and McKines will likely take the combo forward spot alongside Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter so the need to help June Mar with the extra possessions is a must.
The Beermen defeated the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters three games to one in the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals. Arizona Reid churned out epic numbers against his former team with McKines unable to stop the carnage. A couple of years back, Alaska tried to destroy San Mig Coffee’s twice-to-beat handicap to no avail. The Coffee Mixers would then win the title… as if to say whoever wins against McKines, automatically become champs. But now that McKines is part of a winning program, let’s see how he’ll use this situation to his advantage.
The Beermen failed to clinch a Governors’ Cup Finals spot last season. Justin Brownlee unloaded an epic triple to destroy the Ginebra championship drought. He did this against reigning Best Import Allen Durham. These men have returned to perhaps face each other in some sort of encore but I guess they are also here to spoil the potential San Miguel grand slam celebration. While Durham has the better PBA career numbers, this is Brownlee’s second PBA stint… this season. Sure Ginebra didn’t reach the Commissioner’s Cup Finals but Brownlee played the conference with little regard to his size handicap. So if Brownlee could hang against Joshua Smith, then who would stop him from doing the same against McKines. And then you have the rest of the league.
Team chemistry will play a vital role in SMB’s date with destiny. I know Leo Austria is so used to winning now but the grand slam chase is a different animal. I know their chemistry is off the charts but both June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross are on the running for Most Valuable Player (a new SMB MVP or a third four-time MVP). The difference with the grand slam chase of now and 1989 is that none of the players then were poised to win the MVP with Benjie Paras setting the pro stage ablaze. Leadership is a must for imports but perhaps he could coast on this item with the Beermen loaded with leaders and concentrate on his numbers just like what Charles Rhodes did but he needs to be ready if San Miguel goes on a slump. Just take in consideration that prior to McKines and Rhodes, the Beermen had the likes of Arizona Reid and current Phoenix Sun Elijah Millsap.
The Governors’ Cup holds a significant place in San Miguel history. The Beermen won a total of five titles and since its return during the 2010-11 PBA season, the Beermen has been on the finals for three of its six stagings tying the Star Hotshots (B-Meg/San Mig Coffee).
The Beermen aren’t just shooting for their sixth Governors’ Cup title… they are shooting for a historical second grand slam to match the achievement of the Crispa Redmanizers as well.