Despite being heavily favored to win another crown, the San Miguel Beermen had to slowly work their way up to reach the finals.
The reigning champions started off on the wrong foot, losing three straight games before peaking at the right time to salvage their title defense.
Veteran forward and former MVP Arwind Santos blamed it on the team's tendency to be complacent after topping the previous conference.
"Sometimes, our team has this bad attitude of relaxing. We can't avoid it because we're only humans. Sometimes we get amazed by what's happening. We feel like we've got everything," admitted Santos. "But what's good is that we know how to fix it when we start realizing that we're forgetting our goal, when we're already losing."
The sixth-seeded Beermen fended off TNT and Alaska in the playoffs to secure their seventh finals berth since Leo Austria took over the head coaching duties in 2014. They are the lowest-seeded defending champion that made a return trip to the finals since they achieved the same feat back in the 2000 Governors' Cup.
Santos thinks that this difficult journey to the championship stage allowed them to regain their focus.
"Maybe it's also good for San Miguel that we underwent this kind of situation, that we're not always on top. Of course, all the teams are preparing for us. They are also improving and getting stronger," he said about overcoming a winless start.
If there's one thing that the Beermen have proven through the years, it's their ability to rise above the toughest adversities. If they can make a 'Beeracle' happen and survive a 0-3 hole in a finals series, then a 0-3 record at the start of the eliminations is just a small hurdle that they are capable of resolving.
"We can be at the bottom or the middle of the standings but what's important is that we know how to get back on top. That's the championship attitude," shared Santos.
It's the championship attitude that San Miguel showcased against the hard-fighting Aces, who were able to force a fourth game in their best-of-five semis battle. It's also the same attitude that they're going to bring when they clash with either Rain or Shine or Ginebra for the trophy.
"Our goal is not that easy because we're aiming for the Grand Slam. We know our finals opponent will be tough," said Santos. "It doesn't matter which position we find ourselves in. What's important is that we want it, and when we want it, we can get it."