Inside the San Miguel dugout after the Beermen won the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup title in historic fashion, Ryan Arana took time to snap a shot of his jersey placed in front of the Perpetual Cup.
“Hindi ko talaga ma-explain yung feeling pero sobrang happy ko na naging part ako ng San Miguel team na ito,” Arana, who was acquired during the offseason, said Wednesday night.
“Lalo pa napaganda noong nakakuha ako ng All-Filipino (title) which is a dream come true tapos nasamahan pa ng history.”
Earlier during the celebration on the court, Jay-R Reyes, along with his two children, posed for a shot with the Perpetual Cup. Reyes, one of the PBA players with a laid back persona, does not talk a lot and on the floor he is an absolutely gentle giant.
Except perhaps for one instance in Game 3 in Lucena City when he was ejected after elbowing Vic Manuel in the fourth quarter. It was one of those rare breakouts games that he had, yet it ended in an anti-climactic manner. And he admits if the Beermen went on to lose the series earlier, it would have haunting him still.
“Noong na-thrown out ako at kung natalo kami sa series, feeling ko part talaga ako nung pagkatalo,” Reyes shared.
Good thing for him, the team stuck to each other and that virtual thorn has been removed.
“Siguro blessing in disguise dahil noong na-thrown out ako, nabuhayan ako. So ngayong nanalo ng championship, mas masarap yung feeling eh,” he said. “Ang kagandahan sa team namin, kahit down kami 0-3, never kami nagsisihan. Nagtulungan pa kami para maayos at nagtiwala kami sa isa’t isa.”
Those moments took a long while before coming their way, but as the saying goes, there is always a first time for everything.
Arana and Reyes, who have 18 PBA seasons between them, will finally be able to savor winning a Philippine Cup title.
“Nagpapasalamat ako na naging part ng team na ‘to. Kung tutuusin, yung All-Filipino ang pinakamagandang conference talaga eh na makuha mo ang trophy eh,” Reyes said.
It has not been an easy path for the Beermen, but being able to show championship-level character when met with adversity spelled a world of differences for the team.
“Down na talaga kami noong Game 4 na parang wala na talagang pag-asa but the guys did not give up, naniwala kami sa isa’t isa, binigay namin ang best namin,” Arana shared.
“Kami yung underdog. Iniisip ng tao na wala na talagang pag-asa. Pero lumabas yung character ng bawat player dito na hindi, kaya natin to. Lahat nag step up, lahat naging leader, lahat nagtulungan i-angat ang bawat isa. Kita mo yung character from coach Leo all the way to the ball boys, tinutulungan nila kami mai-angat yung morale.”
What stood out and what made the championship special for the Beermen is how they were able to showcase what they were made of: a squad whose mantra goes beyond numbers or individual accolades, and one that defers to what matters the most: team success.
“Ever since magstart yung season, alam naman namin ang roles namin. Kaming bigs, ready kami kapag nawala si June Mar. Sa practice nireready naman namin yung ginagawa namin. Kapag wala siya, nags-step up kami,” Reyes shared.
“Siguro andito, ang daming superstar pero lahat humble, marunong tumanggap ng pagkakamali, mayroong camaraderie at respeto sa isa’t isa. Syempre mayroong mga away (sa practice) pero after that magso-sorry. Hindi papatapusin yung araw na hindi magso-sorry. Pantay-pantay lang turingan namin dito,” Arana added.
Sometimes moments just make their way to people, and those moments finally arrived for newly-minted Philippine Cup champions Arana and Reyes.