Dogfights seen as Final Four gets going
With the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup nearing its homestretch and just four teams left standing, the favorites in the semifinals—one because of its record and the other for the big crowds it draws—are wary of the opponents they are facing starting Wednesday at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Guest team Bay Area, the top squad after the eliminations, will be facing a San Miguel Beer side that will be far different from the one it conquered by 26 points in the classification, while Barangay Ginebra, which is in a box-office best-of-five series at the other side of the Final Four with Magnolia, knows it doesn’t stand a chance if its quarterfinal showing would be used as a gauge.
“San Miguel isn’t the team that we saw in the regular season with [Terrence] Romeo on the team now, the big fella back,” Dragons coach Brian Goorjian said. “Their overall depth—it’s going to be a real challenge for us.”The big fella Goorjian is referring to is June Mar Fajardo, the six-time Most Valuable Player who is back in complete health and again ready to anchor the Beermen’s title-retention bid starting with the 3 p.m. series opener.
Past semis lossGoorjian is also excited to beat the consensus strongest local force in the league that is being backstopped by the improving Devon Scott.
“We get to step up to the plate and take a swing at the champs and I couldn’t ask for more,” added the Olympic bronze medal-winning mentor, who has steered the visitors to a 10-2 record built on thrashing local teams by an average of about 20 points.
Interestingly, coach Tim Cone is preaching the same guarded mindset as the Gin Kings and the Hotshots open their series at 5:45 p.m.
“We’ve had so many battles with that team, we know them well, they know us well. They know what we like to do,” he said.
The Kings have been successful since Cone’s arrival, racking up six crowns. But within that haul was a semifinal loss at the hands of the Hotshots in the 2018 Governors’ Cup, something which is obviously in Cone’s mind.
Magnolia guns for its first Comm’s Cup Finals under Chito Victolero, and the Hotshots are liking their chances with Serbian import Nick Rakocevic. INQ
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