SAN Mig forward Marc Pingris warned his teammates not to take Air21 lightly when they start their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal series on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Mixers are coming off a 2-1 series win over former champion Alaska over the weekend, but Pingris is bracing for a tough battle against an Air21 team that booted out second seed San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals.
“Hindi mo sila (Express) puwedeng baliwalain eh. Malakas yung tinalo nila, No. 2 team (San Miguel Beer) saka malalaki sila,” Pingris said, who despite playing with a bruised left rib, still contributed 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the playoff series against the Aces.
The six-time PBA All-Defensive team member said earning a third straight Finals trip this conference is San Mig's prime motivation in the playoffs after a rough ending to their eliminatrion-round campaign.
“Kami sa practice, paghahandaan namin sila. Gusto kasi uli namin makapasok sa Finals,” he added.
The 32-year-old former PSBA Blue Jaguar standout said the Express are no pushovers, even though the Mixers scored a 97-84 victory over them in their lone elimination round match on April 9.
Since San Mig will be up against an Air21 squad that has rode on the broad shoulders of Asi Taulava, Sean Anthony and import Wesley Witherspoon in the quarterfinals, Pingris said communication will again be the key in the semis.
“Lahat nagi-step up. Nagu-usap-usap kasi kami. Yan ang sikreto ng team, yung walang Marc Pingris, James Yap or PJ Simon lang,” explained Pingris.
“Habang nagpa-practice kami, sinasabi nga namin kung ano ang gagawin namin so iyon ang disiplina ng team, na manalo or matalo magkakasama pa rin kami,” he added.