PBA: San Miguel’s Grand Slam journey begins against lowly Blackwater


June Mar Fajardo and a healthy San Miguel squad are heavily favored against Blackwater on Saturday. PBA Media Bureau

San Miguel Beer begins its quest to win the third and final jewel of a rare Grand Slam, when it takes on Blackwater in the PBA Governor’s Cup at Ynares Center in Antipolo city on Saturday.

The San Miguel-Blackwater game starts at 3 p.m., before the Meralco-Rain Or Shine tussle at 5:15 p.m.

The Beermen will be anchored by Wendell McKines, an American reinforcement from California who first joined the team as far back as late May. This is McKines’ third go in the league, having previously played for Alaska and Rain Or Shine.

Even though it took San Miguel until June 30 to be done with the Commissioner’s Cup, the team brought McKines in early to make sure he is fully assimilated into coach Leo Austria’s system.

And McKines has the luxury of joining a tight-knit squad that knows what it takes to win. 

With Commissioner’s Cup best player Chris Ross and 3-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo at the forefront of San Miguel’s attack, the Beermen are highly favored to beat Blackwater, which has lost its first 2 games but welcomes back prized rookie Mac Belo after he suited up for Gilas Pilipinas in the Jones Cup.

In the second game, Meralco looks for a third straight win when the Bolts play Rain Or Shine (1-1).

Meralco has been on a tear, beating Blackwater and defending champion Barangay Ginebra by an average margin of 22 points.
Meralco’s strong start can be credited to Jared Dillinger’s resurgent role on offense and Chris Newsome’s balanced play.

Dillinger is shooting 8 of 21 from 3-point range, for a respectable 38% clip, and averaging 15.5 points.

Newsome had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in Meralco’s win over Blackwater, then followed that up with a 16-13-5 line against Ginebra.

Meralco will face a Rain Or Shine squad that is coming off a double-overtime loss to league-leading NLEX.

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