SMB, Alaska start new title duel
Alex Compton of Alaska and his coaching staff have spent the last four days watching San Miguel Beer in action, trying to find out what exactly they will need to avenge their bitter loss to the Beermen in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
Getting the benefit of a long rest, Compton and his Aces take on the Beermen in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series for the Governors’ Cup, aiming to go all the way this time.
The Aces, who swept the Star Hotshots in the semifinals, tangle with the Beermen in the 7 p.m. contest at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, seeking to take advantage of their rivals’ tired legs.
San Miguel Beer needed four games to eliminate the Rain or Shine Wednesday.
Compton was a very interested spectator in the last two games of the Beermen’s high-scoring series with the Elasto Painters and knows he would need to shut down practically the entire team to hand Alaska a conference crown.
Alaska’s defense has been its main weapon in topping the elimination round and in going unscathed in the playoffs.
Since the Aces will not win a shootout with the Beermen, pundits say they will be relying on their discipline and the “we-not-me” mentality to turn the tide.
San Miguel, meanwhile, is again expected to rely heavily on leading MVP contender June Mar Fajardo and hope that Arizona Reid gets to at least negate Romeo Travis’ contributions for the Aces.
The problem, according to coach Leo Austria, is they lacked the time to prepare for this series after going through a very tough one with the Painters.
San Miguel will be gunning for a second title this season, which seems to be enough motivation for every Beerman. But Austria also acknowledged that the Aces are equally motivated to prove that the Beermen’s Philippine Cup win was a fluke.
Alaska had control of that decisive Game 7 and looked headed to winning its 15th league title when Arwind Santos turned things around with a triple with under 50 seconds remaining.
This series is expected to be as close as that one. In their only meeting in this tournament, which happened in Panabo on June 6, the game went down the wire with the Aces pulling out an 82-77 win.
Travis scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Aces, who nailed top-seeding in the playoffs with that victory.
Alaska, which has lost just three games all tournament long, is seeking a championship for the first time since 2013, when it ruled the Commissioner’s Cup over Barangay Ginebra.
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