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Banchero takes a fourth crack at San Miguel Beer, now as a ‘different’ player


Banchero takes a fourth crack at San Miguel Beer, now as a ‘different’ player

It’s all set for the Philippine Cup finals, with both teams eager to seize a series head start. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Meralco guard Chris Banchero has been to the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) championship series a total of six times.

He has no crowns to show for those trips, but that has hardly put a dent in the confidence of the 10-year veteran.

“Regardless of how many times I fail, I’ll always get back up and climb that mountain until I’m successful,” he told the Inquirer with a smile on the heels of the pre-Finals presser with San Miguel held at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas on Monday.

“You know, perseverance has been a big thing in my life, not only in basketball but in anything I do,” he added.

“I’ve faced San Miguel quite a few times and I’ve been on the wrong side of it. Hopefully, God-willing, this time is different.”

Selected fifth overall by the now-disbanded Alaska squad during the 2014 Rookie Draft, Banchero had multiple shots at a PBA crown—three of which were against the mighty Beermen.

Vaunted club

He will have his fourth try against the vaunted club when the best-of-seven finalé gets going this Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

And like his teammates, he’s raring to get the fight on.

“I’m extremely excited to go back up against San Miguel, especially now that I’m a different player. I’m with a different team and with a different coaching staff. It’s exciting,” he said.

“Especially with this conference—with how we started it—and where we are at now,” Banchero pointed out. “A lot of people counted us out early into the conference and counted us out when we were down 3-2 (against Ginebra).”

Meralco looked like it was on pace to battle for a No. 8 seed halfway through the All-Filipino showcase. The Bolts, however, managed to regain its bearings just in time, even beating San Miguel 95-92, in a road game held in Batangas, to ultimately finish the preliminaries as the No. 3 seed.

Banchero and his teammates also found themselves trailing against traditional tormentor Barangay Ginebra. But the Bolts staved off elimination twice with the former starring in the deciding Game 7 which was also staged in Batangas.

“It was no easy task to be down 3-2 and win that Ginebra series, but now that that chapter is closed, it’s time to focus on San Miguel,” Banchero said.

“It’s not an easy task. It’s easy to say ‘Play hard and win a championship,’ it’s easy to say all those things. But when you’re going against June Mar (Fajardo), the guys around him, it’s a tough task. But I believe we’re up for it. I believe we’re extremely well-prepared,” he added.

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“We’re playing good basketball at the right time, and playoff time is when you want to play your best basketball and I think we’re doing that right now.” INQ

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