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.
In this edition, we'll feature the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters who dominated the Philippine Cup for three years from 2011 to 2013. They won the Philippine Cup Perpetual Trophy with coach Norman Black but it was coach Chot Reyes who won the first two titles and had a hand in forming the team.
They started with Kelly Williams, Ranidel De Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, Jayson Castro, and Jimmy Alapag.
Here is the transcript of our interview with Reyes.
"The key in building that team was when we traded for Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes the year before from Sta. Lucia. We had a good team but those two really helped us become a champion team once again. Talk 'N Text won the Philippine Cup in 2009 with Mac Cardona but we knew in 2011 that we had a special team, the kind that could win championships consistently.
"Another key for that team was their chemistry. Every player was held accountable. We had a great leader in Jimmy Alapag and other players who were also leaders in their own right."
Kelly Williams vs. June Mar Fajardo
"Whether it's Kelly or Ali (Peek), they'll really have a hard time with June Mar. Ali has the heft but not the size to stop June Mar. Neither does Kelly but he has the speed and athletic ability to give June Mar other sorts of problems.
"First, you have to try and make June Mar defend with his feet. Try to involve him in high ball screens. But they're now very smart about it. Coach Leo Austria has already developed a way to help June Mar out in these situations."
Ranidel de Ocampo vs. Arwind Santos
"We've always seen how Ranidel and Arwind would cancel each other out. They're very similar but some of the best success we had against Arwind was when we put Ryan or JD (Jared Dillinger) on him. Arwind does not really kill you with his post offense. And in fact if he posts up, that's good for us because we'll lose a three-point threat with him clogging the paint alongside June Mar. Those are the things that the TNT team could do because we were versatile.
"The key for Arwind is really June Mar. Sometimes you'll forget about Arwind because your focus is on June Mar in the shaded area."
Ryan Reyes vs. Marcio Lassiter
"Ryan can match up very well against Lassiter because he's a smart defender. You won't be able to get 10 steals in a game if you were not good defensively. On offense, he can also drive and shoot threes so this will be a very good matchup but again after Ryan we still had Larry (Fonacier) and JD off the bench."
Jayson Castro vs. Chris Ross
"We've seen this matchup play out recently so we know it's a good one. Jasyon has amazing speed but so does Ross. He also has the strength to make it tougher for Jayson.
"Having two Finals MVPs matched up against each other means this will be a tight one."
Jimmy Alapag vs. Alex Cabagnot
"Alex Cabagnot is one of the best guards in the PBA today but Jimmy is one of the best in history.
"I don't think there is a point guard as good at the ball screen as Jimmy. He can pull up three feet behind the ball screen on the three-point line and it will still be a good shot. If you show hard, he will penetrate because he can finish in traffic and is also a good passer.
"SMB right now does not have to contend with a guard like that. Maybe the closest is Jayson but he doesn't have the range of Jimmy.
"Even in the Magnolia finals series, SMB was willing to give the three-point shot to Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon. They were willing to live with that but it's something you cannot do against Jimmy."
"The first five of San Miguel is really their strength. This is the reason why when the bench of SMB plays well, it will often be a blowout win for the Beermen. The big advantage for SMB in the PBA now is that all the other teams can be zoned. Coach Leo Austria knows that when they're having problems, they could just sit in their zone and they have an excellent version of the zone.
"I don't think there are teams in the PBA right now who could put in four shooters against that SMB zone, players who have the consistency and the balls to take the big shots. They may not have been the most accurate of shooters but they were all clutch. They have the guts to make big shots.
"They might have the advantage in the starting lineup but we had a definite advantage with our guys coming of the bench because that's how we built the team. We wanted a deep unit."