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Beermen celebrate Governors’ Cup win with fans

The San Miguel Beermen at their victory party Thursday. | Rick Olivares

MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen celebrated their 21st PBA championship at the Robinson's Galleria Thursday with hundreds of their supporters.

The Beermen were in full force this time around, including back-to-back Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and import Arizona Reid. Fajardo wasn't available during their meet and greet with fans after they bagged the Philippine Cup to start the season.

Fajardo, who flew to Cebu following the series sweep over Alaska in the Governors' Cup, returned for the team's fan and media commitments until Sunday after which the team gets time off.

During the meet and greet, fans got the opportunity to ask the Beermen questions and the two things that fans wanted to know were if there will be any changes to the lineup for next season and if they will go for the coveted Grand Slam.

SMB's Alex Cabagnot meets a fan

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"We'd like to take it one game at a time, one conference at a time," gently intoned head coach Leo Austria in order to temper expectations. "It is getting harder to win a championship let alone three in a row in this league. Everyone improves their team by the conference. And no doubt they will be building their roster in the off-season."

"Who doesn't want to achieve that goal?" added Fajardo. "We all do. But right now we want to enjoy the offseason and not be burdened by basketball. We will get ready for that when the time comes and will give it our best."

Austria said that on a scale of one to 10 with the latter being the highest, he would rate the chemistry of his team a "five." We got the job done, but there is still much work to be done. We had many players injured, sometimes all at the same time during many stages. One of our concerns is to keep this team and get them all healthy."

Power forward Arwind Santos led the Beermen in an impromptu conga line as they danced with fans on the stage.

"This doesn't happen too often so we're going to do this with you (the fans)," said Santos to a cheering throng.

Import Arizona Reid

Reid, whom Austria was all praises for, was visibly moved by the reception he received from the fans. Pointing a sign that read: "Hard work = AZ Reid," the American reinforcement of the Beermen told fans, "That is what it is all about. You hear it all the time but that's the truth. You can't give up in the face of setbacks. If you look at San Miguel in the first conference, they were extended all the way to seven games. We could have lost that but we learned from it and took care of business in the Governors' Cup."

"Ah, AZ," postulated Austria. "Was our x-factor."

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