It is a case of history repeating itself for San Mig Coffee or Meralco writing a new one for itself.
With the last slot in the Final Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on the line, the defending champion Mixers and the Bolts slug it out tonight with San Mig Coffee looking to take the same path it took to the title last season.
Meralco, on the other hand, tries to trace the same route itself in the 6:45 p.m. duel at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The best-of-three series between the two is tied at 1-1 for the second straight season, with Meralco winning Game 1 both times and the Mixers taking Game 2 convincingly.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio had said after the Game 1 win that they learned their lesson from last season and were not about to fall into the same celebratory mood and let this series slip away again. But the Bolts just couldn’t shoot the ball well enough in Game 2 and allowed the Mixers to escape with an eight-point win.
And that is what the Bolts hope to address as they certainly cannot beat a powerhouse team like the Mixers with poor shooting.
The winner of the match advances to face tournament top seed Alaska in a best-of-five Final Four series where the victor will clash with the survivor of the Talk ‘N Text-Barangay Ginebra matchup for the title.
San Mig Coffee import Denzel Bowles and Meralco counterpart Eric Dawson are expected to cancel each other out, putting a lot of pressure on the shoulders of their local teammates.
That should give San Mig the edge with its star-studded local nucleus led by Peter June Simon, Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis and former two-time MVP James Yap.
Yap has been struggling of late because of back problems, but coach Tim Cone said after the Game 2 win that they were confident that team doctors could make his prized gunslinger play a little better in time for tonight.
Mac Cardona and Chris Ross will be the prime locals for the Bolts, who would need to get big games from Sunday Salvacion, Ronjay Buenafe and Jay-R Reyes if they want to move on.
Bowles won the Best Import award last year and he could eliminate this year’s potential winner in Dawson if the Mixers eliminate Meralco tonight.