San Miguel 98 – Rain or Shine 91
With little surprise, the San Miguel Beermen continued their dominance in the Philippine Cup as they become the first team to barge into the semifinals.
This time, however, it took a slightly different formula, compared to what had brought SMB success for most of the tournament.
San Miguel is a stacked team. But for most of the conference, they didn’t need to dig too deep down their bench to win games. The starters were usually enough.
But things shake up a little when it comes to the playoffs. It’s not that easy to win games anymore. When I did the preview of this quarterfinals match-up, I mentioned that one question for San Miguel was: who can produce off the bench?
The Beermen starters are awesome. Each one of them is All-Star material. But of course, they’re going to be the main targets of opposing defenses. Opponents are going to want to slow the stars down. In those occasions, someone’s gotta carry the load.
Last night, Coach Leo Austria turned to his bench and called out for help. And RR Garcia was there to heed the plea.
“I have to commend my players, especially RR, dahil nag step up siya. If not for his outside shooting, we would have been in trouble,” Austria praised Garcia after the game.
On a team loaded with MVPs, with almost-unfair offensive firepower, it was Garcia who top-scored for the Beermen with 25 points. He shot the lights out from deep, draining five trey bombs.
RR is a star in his own right. You put him on a different squad and he’d be a starter. He might even lead that team in scoring.
But he’s with San Miguel right now. He’s with a team that has June Mar Fajardo getting a double-double in his worst games. He’s on a team where Alex Cabagnot can miss his first 50 shots and still make the game-winner at the buzzer. This is the current situation for Garcia and he’s absolutely right in just making the most of what he gets.
He was needed and he showed up. Simple as that.
“Kailangan namin ‘tong game na ‘to kasi sabi ni coach may history ang San Miguel na natatalo sa first game,” said Garcia.
You’ll never hear RR ask for more minutes. You’ll never hear him say “This is what I can do if you just use me more.” He’ll just be there. Ready for whatever you need him for. Whether it’s taking Cabagnot’s arrows or taking and making big shots to repel Rain or Shine.
With the emergence of a bench option, the Beermen just got ridiculously better.
And when a team that went 10-1 in the eliminations still gets better, it’s definitely not good news for the rest of the league.
Source: SLAM Philippines