Arwind Santos believes painful losses like the one San Miguel Beer experienced Wednesday night can serve the Beermen well as they continue to strive for greatness in the PBA.
The Beermen's six-of-six winning streak in the finals under Leo Austria came to an end in Game 6 of the Commissioner's Cup Finals when the Barangay Ginebra Kings successfully dethroned the SMB Beermen, 93-77, to capture the crown.
The 6-4 Santos picked up a bad time to shoot poorly in the series, finishing with just five points on 2-of-11 shooting, while missing five of his six three-point attempts against a determined Ginebra squad.
But Santos gave no excuses, saying the Kings deserve to win the championship.
"We came from a championship (in the Philippine Cup) and here we are, accepting this defeat in the finals. That's how it is. We're just humans," Santos told media men in Filipino, shortly after stepping out of the team's dugout Wednesday night.
The 37-year-old San Miguel star forward said losses like this will only make the team stronger.
"Now all we need to do is go back to how we started things by working hard, prepare well for the next conference and aim to reach the finals again," he said. "We only have a week to take a break and then we resume practice again. That's the way it is."
From the very beginning of the season, Santos admitted the Beermen have had a big target on their backs.
"The challenge and pressure is always there because every team prepares hard to play us, which is why it's imperative for us to prepare doubly hard every game," he added.
Four-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo couldn't agree more on Santos' statement.
"It's tiring too since a lot of people expect us to be champions every conference, so somehow, that's an added pressure for us," shared the 6-10 Fajardo, who carried the load for SMB in Game 6 with 29 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort.
Still, Fajardo chose to look on the bright side after the finals defeat.
"We are still very blessed as a team. We know it's hard to be the target of every team each conference, but then again, we also need to get stronger. We can't afford to be complacent because just because we're San Miguel, other teams will just roll over," he explained.
The Beermen, who won two of three titles last season, still have a chance to win a second championship this season in the season-ending Governors' Cup, which opens on August 17.