JUST like everyone else, Tim Cone, the San Mig Coffee coach, is surprised his team has no less than Alaska for its match-up in the playoffs of the PBA Governors Cup.
Coming off a successful title drive in the last Commissioner’s Cup, the Aces were the team Cone least expected the Mixers will meet in this early in the quarterfinals phase.
But no thanks to a disappointing 107-121 loss at the hands of Air21 on the final day of the eliminations, Alaska fell to as low as the No. 7 seed to arrange a showdown against the second-seeded Mixers and the man considered as the architect of the Aces’ 12 championships in the past.
“We thought we might see them in the semis or finals,” quipped Cone upon learning of San Mig’s quarterfinal date with Alaska.
The two teams that tangled in the Commissioner’s Cup semis won by the Aces, 4-1, renew their budding rivalry on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Although dejected at the way his team’s elimination round campaign ended up, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo appears ready to take on the Mixers and his former mentor head-on.
“If there is a time to mee San Mig, it is now. They will be harder to match up against down the road in a best-of-seven with their addition of talented players in (Allein) Maliksi and (Alex) Mallari to their roster this year,” said Trillo of the Mixers, who go into the playoff riding high on a five-game winning streak.
“In my opinion, they have the deepest lineup on paper.”
But just as Trillo holds San Mig Coffee in high esteem, so does Cone of Alaska, whose standing as the seventh-seeded team in the playoffs belie its stature as a force to reckon with in the league.
“Obviously, they’re not a seventh seed-like team, and we have to make sure we don’t treat them as such,” Cone stressed.
“We can’t really think beyond Wednesday’s game. We have to just stay focused on what’s in front of us and make sure we take care of business.”