The San Miguel Beermen accomplished something that has never been done in the PBA by winning four-straight Philippine Cup titles. The starting unit is one of the best the country has ever seen. Headlined by four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo with former MVP Arwind Santos, Finals MVPs Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, and arguably the league's best shooting guard in Marcio Lassiter, this edition of the Beermen may be one of, if not the best team, ever assembled.
ESPN5 asked some coaches of former Philippine Cup champions to compare the rosters they fielded to coach Leo Austria's personnel, and possible tactics they would use to defeat the Beermen.
This week we're featuring the Barangay Ginebra Kings who won the Philippine Cup in 2007 led by head coach Jong Uichico. It was their second to the last title before the infamous eight-year title drought which only ended when Justin Brownlee nailed a triple at the buzzer to win the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup.
Uichico's 2007 champion team featured Eric Menk, Rudy Hatfield, Ronald Tubid, Mark Caguioa, and Jayjay Helterbrand as the starting five.
Here is the transcript of our interview with him.
"We had a loaded lineup then but our attack was really led by Jayjay and Mark who are both scoring guards. They were 'The Fast and The Furious' for a reason.
"They were not the typical guards during that time. Most of the point guards then were facilitators like Olsen Racela or Gerry Esplana but the two were uptempo. They played well together because they were friends also. Their chemistry translated to the game because they were also close in real life.
"That team was successful because the rest of the team knew they could always rely on the two, who were both capable os scoring 30 points in any game. The two were part of the Mythical First Team and they would both win the MVP award later in their careers. Of course they were also loved by the fans, which is always a good thing."
Erik Menk vs. June Mar Fajardo
"Erik did not have the fastest feet but he had the strength to make it difficult for June Mar. Erik is not a straight-up back-to-the-basket player. He can face up and nail the mid-range jumper. He can also put the ball of the floor.
"The way to make June Mar uncomfortable on defense is to make him move his feet. If you post him up, you won't be successful. Erik had the capability to do this. If ever June Mar has a weakness, it is his movement laterally."
Rudy Hatfield vs. Arwind Santos
"Rudy will score without the ball. He'll run the floor for 40 minutes and not demand the ball even once. He's a pest when he's defending you. Arwind will have a hard time boxing him out. On the other side, Rudy will be on Arwind's face every time he takes a three-point shot.
"It's an interesting matchup because they are two contrasting players. One's all energy and the other is more deliberate."
Mark Caguioa vs. Chris Ross
"Chris Ross is such a great defender because he's quick and very physical but I expect Mark to rise up to the challenge. He always finds a way to score because he has many weapons. He can post up or face up or use multiple picks. It'll be a very interesting match-up if they faced each other in their primes."
Ronald Tubid vs. Alex Cabagnot
"I'll have Tubid on their best offensive player which is Cabagnot. Our best defensive player on their best offensive player to just try and contain him. Tubid has defensive pride. He wants to shut down players. He might not always be successful but that was always his goal.
"He did not have technique but he finds ways to make it happen. He'll do whatever tactics are necessary just to try and stop the opposing player."
Jayjay Helterbrand vs. Marcio Lassiter
"I think this matchup is a wash. Jayjay can keep up with Marcio when he tries to drive and challenge when he takes the three.
"If Lassiter thinks he has the advantage on Jayjay at the post, we'll take that. We'd rather have him posting up rather than shooting threes. Maybe he's also a good post-up player but he's still a better three-point shooter."
"San Miguel likes to slow the game down while we liked to speed it up. I'll also trust Rudy to guard June Mar sometimes. If Erik and Rudy can't do the job, I still have Rafi (Reavis) off the bench. In my mind right now, Rafi and Rudy were the two players who were so active that they won't just stay behind June Mar.
"If you stay behind June Mar, you've already lost the game. To give June Mar different looks, you need good footwork.
"We consistently got better numbers from our bench compared to what SMB is getting from theirs. Our bench, for the minutes that they played, always found a way to contribute. I played my starters in the high 30s but the bench gave them much-needed rest without our performance as a team dipping.
"In terms of the starters, I think our only real advantage against the 2018 SMB team is...our crowd (laughs)."