There was no way San Miguel was avoiding that Grand Slam conversation once the confetti fell in their title-clinching Game 6 win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup finals on Friday.
After Justin Brownlee and Barangay Ginebra stonewalled the Beermen's bid of completing a season trifecta two years ago in the Governors' Cup, coach Leo Austria and SMB are well aware of the latest opportunity to complete the grueling job that has landed on their lap.
"This is the second chance (for a Grand Slam)," Austria said following the 102-90 victory at the Araneta Coliseum. "We're targeting another championship. That would have a double purpose because once we get the championship in the third conference, siguro mababalato na sa amin 'yung Grand Slam."
That 2017 loss to the Kings in the quarterfinals should serve as ample reminder that completing a season sweep is a Herculean task despite SMB's dominance. But sealing a second Grand Slam for the franchise -and just the league's sixth-would make this iteration of the team an outlier in San Miguel's storied history books, making a difficult attempt become a necessary struggle come September.
"It's really an honor if we get this. They're really looking for Grand Slam, but I've said before, it's really hard. We're always the target of the teams in the PBA," said Austria.
Achieving that goal means that SMB will need to get another game-changing import-like Chris McCullough this conference-capable of bringing them all the way to the top. That singular force was what the Beermen lacked in their last Grand Slam attempt, where they had international journeyman Terrence Watson in tow.
"The last time we won the first and second, unfortunately we didn't have a great import in the third. Import really matters in this campaign. If you don't have a good one, it's likely hard for you to win," said Austria.
San Miguel, however, would be getting ahead of itself if the the shot at a Grand Slam immediately filled their hearts. It hasn't even been a day since they took home the crown, after all.
"I'm not thinking about that now. I think the Grand Slam is pitted on us, but it's so difficult. I think it's so convenient to say we'll address that when we cross the bridge. Right now, let's just enjoy. I think it's going to take away from the championship we won if we talk about the Grand Slam," guard Alex Cabagnot said after the game.
He was correct. Everyone could use some time to reflect on the doubts and challenges that SMB hurdled before capping off the midseason tourney with a championship: a 2-5 start, a twice-to-beat disadvantage, a 2-1 series deficit in the best-of-seven finals, and an undermanned yet resilient TNT side led by the Best Player of the Conference in Jayson Castro and the Best Import in Terrence Jones.
"Our journey to the Finals has been a rollercoaster," Austria said. "I don't have a lot of words about them. They showed the true heart of a champion. Losing was something we had to learn. It made us a tough team to beat."
"It feels good to win a championship. Blessed, definitely feeling blessed," Cabagnot gushed. "To just get to this stage, being the seventh seed with a twice-to-beat disadvantage, I don't know how we got here but we're here."
So cut the Beermen some slack if they allow themselves to sit back and enjoy the scenery for a little while.
"I think it's premature to put that on us. We won today," Cabagnot said. "I think the task that we did these last three months shouldn't be overshadowed [by] just logistically thinking about the Grand Slam.
"It's in the back of our minds but as of right now, there's so much going on that we should be just thankful, humble, stay down to earth and thank God for all the blessings He gave us tonight."