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.
First on tap is Chot Reyes who led Coney Island to the 1993 Philippine Cup title with Jerry Codinera, Alvin Patrimonio, Boy Cabahug, Glenn Capacio, and Dindo Pumaren. Here is a transcript:
1993 All-Filipino was my first tournament and we were fortunate enough to win right away. The All-Filipino Cup was often a good one for us basically because of Alvin and Jerry. When I got there, Jojo Lastimosa was already traded to Alaska and we only drafted Rey Evangelista in 1994. I thought those two players could have presented a more potent starting five to match up with San Miguel Beer but our 1993 team found a way to defeat a stacked SMB squad with guys like Ramon Fernandez, Samboy Lim, Ato Agustin, and Allan Caidic.
Jerry Codinera vs. June Mar Fajardo
Even if June Mar has three or four inches on Jerry, I don't think Jerry will be too overmatched because he's a very smart and very strong player who also has tremendous timing. I don't think there is a Codinera-like defender in the PBA today. We don't have a defensive-specialist big man who's a pure center. Of course, he can also step out into the perimeter where his 15-footers are automatic.
If you think of a Filipino center who can match-up with June Mar defensively, I think it's Jerry.
Alvin Patrimonio vs. Arwind Santos
This is going to be a very interesting match. Obviously, Alvin will have to chase Arwind on the outside to prevent him from shooting his threes but, in the same manner as June Mar versus Jerry, I don't think Arwind needs to defend anyone in the PBA today who is as good in the post as Alvin, who can also step out to make the three. The PBA has not seen a player as good at the post as Alvin, not before and not after.
At the 4 and 5 spots, I think Coney Island can match up with the Beermen. You have two members of the 25 Greatest Players in PBA history going up against an addition in 2015 to the 40 Greatest and the first one to be selected in the next time the PBA adds to their list.
Marcio Lassiter vs. Boy Cabahug
We all know what kind of shooter Boy Cabahug is and how streaky he can be but SMB has a big advantage in the shooter department. Marcio is a stronger player, a better slasher, and a better defender.
Glenn Capacio vs. Chris Ross
The main strength of the Beermen is June Mar but they are not going to win as much if they did not have Chris Ross. He does so many things for that team now that you can't leave him open anymore because of his improved three-point shooting. He also makes very good decisions with the ball but the one thing he really does well is his defensive coverage. He compensates for a lot of the defensive limitations of his other teammates.
Capacio is an all-time defensive great. During his prime, he was an automatic member of the All-Defensive Team. So defensively, I think it's a wash.
Glenn, I think is a better three-point shooter than Ross but in overall athletic ability, Ross has an advantage. I think it's a close matchup to call.
Dindo Pumaren vs. Alex Cabagnot
It's a battle between two really good combo guards but I think Alex has an advantage because of his size. Obviously, there are few players in the PBA who had the speed of The Bullet but the scoring ability of Alex Cabagnot gives him an advantage. He's a better all-around scorer.
If it's facilitating as a pure point guard, Dindo has an edge against Alex but in this matchup I really think Alex has the edge. We all know that he makes clutch shots for SMB and that really stems from his talent in shot-making. He has a variety of weapons he can use so he isn't shy about taking shots late in the game because he knows he can make them.
With Jerry, we can say that if June Mar gets his 40 points against one of the best defenders in PBA history, then he gets his 40. It's not going to be an easy 40 for him and it also allows us to clamp down defensively on the other guys. Plus, he will have to defend Jerry in the perimeter.
Jerry's threat from the mid-range will allow Alvin to really use his advantage against Arwind at the post. Alvin will have the space to operate and won't have to worry about June Mar blocking his shot as a help defender because he'll have to stay home on Jerry.
That's the advantage of SMB now. Supposed to be, this could have been done by Magnolia with Ian (Sangalang) and Aldrech (Ramos) but Aldrech could not hit his shots in the series and this allowed SMB to really clamp down on Ian which made scoring very difficult for him after Game 1 and I thought that was the key to the entire series. Rafi Reavis will hit the jumper from time to time but June Mar won't step out for it. He'll just stay on their zone.
The Beermen will have frontcourt problems against us and we'll have backcourt problems with them. SMB has the better starters because they're not just talented but they've also been together for a long time. However, Coney Island/Purefoods team, I think has the better bench.