It’s evident that the 2020 Philippine Cup of the 45th Season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has been a rough ride so far for the defending champion San Miguel Beermen.
Heading into the season, the Beermen did not have the only six-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the league, June Mar Fajardo, as he is still recovering from that gruesome complete fracture on his right tibia that he suffered last February. The injury has forced him to sit out the rest of the season.
San Miguel also don’t have the services of veteran versatile-wingman Matt Ganuelas-Rosser as he opted to miss out the PBA bubble due personal reasons. And most recently, 2019 Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP Terrence Romeo dislocated his shoulder which forced him to leave the PBA bubble.
Now, with all these factors in placed, a lot of fans and critics are already calling it the Beermen’s quest for a six-peat in the Philippine Cup as over.
But I’m telling ya’ll not to count them out!
While San Miguel hasn’t been the dominant force, we all were accustomed to see in the last five Philippine Cups, they are still showing that they’re no joke.
The Beermen started off the season with a win but that was back in March before the pandemic against Magnolia.
When the bubble started however, San Miguel suffered two straight losses at the hands of Rain or Shine and Talk ‘n Text.
Since those two losses though, the Beermen have been on a roll winning three consecutive games over Terrafirma, Alaska and most recently Meralco, 89-82.
In those three wins, there was one big factor for San Miguel: the duo of Arwind Santos and Mo Tautuaa.
Heading into the PBA Bubble, with the absence of Fajardo, a lot of people were expecting a huge whole in the paint for the Beermen, but the new twin towers of the red and yellow squad are certainly making up for it.
For the season, Santos has been averaging 14.1 points, 10.6 rebounds two assists with 1.5 steals and one block per game, while Tautuaa is putting up star numbers with 18.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, three assists and shooting 60% from the field.
In San Miguel’s last three wins, Tautuaa has been unstoppable putting up 25 points and six rebounds against the Dyip, 16 points, six rebounds and six assists against Alaska and finally, 23 points and five rebounds against Meralco.
Santos has been feasting as well, putting up 20 points and 14 rebounds against Terrafirma, 17 points and 10 rebounds versus the Aces and then 17 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals against the Bolts.
With these two going, head coach Leo Austria tipped his hat to both gentlemen and explained how important the two are for the team.
“We let him do what he wants to do, especially, when we have them in the post and because we know that our opponent will have a hard time at stopping in the post and it really started there,” he said during the post-game press conference.
“I trust him. We cannot afford to lose him because we want Mo Tautuaa at the post, so we need someone from the big man position to shoot outside and he’s always a threat and that’s why he’s there,” he added.
Barangay Ginebra and Tropang Giga are the two heavy favorites to win it all this conference. But with San Miguel slowly but surely building up steam as the conference reaches its latter part, I wouldn’t be complacent and think that these boys are done with their quest for their sixth-consecutive All-Filipino Cup title.