When the San Miguel Beermen got their first crack at a grandslam by winning the first two conferences, they made one bold move that paid big dividends in the final stretches of their quest against their sister team rival.
They did it again this year but Ginebra was not interested in falling into the same trap.
Way back in 1989, the Beermen did an import swap to boost their grandslam quest and came out winners. They did the move that other teams in the same situation often avoid because of chemistry issues again this year but could not pull out same results.
San Miguel brought in Jonathan Keith Smart as their original import. Smart will probably be best remembered for hitting the game-winning basket in the 1987 NCAA championship game that gave his team, the Indiana Hoosiers, the championship.
Smart, while a good import, could not fit in the SMB line-up as he plays point guard for a team that already has two of the top point guards of all time in Ricardo Brown and Hector Calma.
The cracks showed right away in their first game against Purefoods, where banger Dexter Shouse led Purefoods to deal the Beermen their worst defeat of the season, 94-126, and drop their next game to Ginebra San Miguel, then known as Añejo Rum.
It didn’t matter that the Beermen would win three straight after that to fire Smart and bring in Ennis Whatley, who possess a better inside presence. They did not mind the possible occurrence of chemistry issues.
The Beermen would tie the Hotdogs at the end of the eliminations and won six straight after dropping the first two games of an eight-game semifinal round to enter the finals.
San Miguel then reaped the import change reward as Brown, back from skipping the first two conferences, took the cudgels of going up against prolific import Carlos Briggs in both ends of the floor while Whatley is often matched against somebody else to the advantage of the Beermen.
San Miguel won the Grandslam with a 4-1 series win over Añejo Rum 65.
The Beermen did the trick again this year to boost their grandslam hopes.
They originally brought Wendell Mckines who led them to a 3-2 record before cutting him for Terik Bridgeman who won one and lost one for a 4-3 record after seven games.
It is at this time they decided to bring in one that would fit better in their current line-up as both imports often play the same position as their main local guy, June Mar Fajardo.
Enter Terrence Watson for their game against Ginebra after an All-Filipino crew gained one game to up their record to 5-3.
Watson did not disappoint initially as SMB routed their sister team in the first three periods before settling to a ,107-103 win where Watson was a vital cog in diffusing a Ginebra rally. The Beermen then scrapped Rain or Shine 109-107, and bowed to Meralco 104-101 to barely miss out the top seed with their 7-4 record. They instead fell to sixth with an expected tough series in a rematch against the Gins in the quarters.
Ginebra, however, is not having any of it this time around.
The Gins promptly returned back the favor, neutralized Watson, and turned in a 104-84 shellacking to avoid a becoming the victim of an import change again and end the Beermen’s dream of becoming just the second team to win multiple grandslams.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS