THE Final Four of the 2012-13 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs get underway Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Two-time defending champion Talk ‘N Text takes on Alaska in a rematch of their 2010 Fiesta Conference semifinal and 2008-09 Philippine Cup Final which both went the seven-game distance and which the two teams split – the Tropang Texters winning the all-Filipino duel and the Aces winning with Diamon Simpson as import.
San Mig Coffee takes on Rain or Shine in the other best-of-seven semifinal in a rematch of their 2012 Governors Cup title series won by the Elasto Painters 4-3 just last August for their breakthrough championship in six seasons in the league.
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How important is Game One in a best-of-seven series in PBA history? Sixty-three out of 92 teams which won the opener of a best-of-seven playoff went on to win the series (a winning percentage of 68.5%), including 14 of the last 15 dating back to the 2009-10 Philippine Cup semis.
However in best-of-seven semifinal duels only, the percentage is lower: only 15 of 24, or 62.5%
The only team in the last 15 best-of-seven semis which lost the series after winning Game One was Rain or Shine in last season’s Philippine Cup Final 4 against Powerade.
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This is the eighth straight Philippine Cup where the semifinals are best-of-seven affairs and 13th conference overall since they were first implemented during the 2005-06 season.
Talk ‘N Text, Alaska and San Mig Coffee are all in their seventh best-of-seven semifinal, second most in the league, next only to the 10 of Petron Blaze. Rain or Shine is only in its third best-of-seven semis.
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Curiously, three of the four current semifinalists are last season’s conference champions and each coached by the three most experienced coaches in the PBA today – Norman Black, Tim Cone and Yeng Guiao.
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The Talk ‘N Text-Alaska series is a match-up of the most dominant all-Filipino team in the last nine seasons against the team with the longest all-Filipino title drought among all teams.
The Tropang Texters have won the Philippine Cup in the last two seasons, in three of the last four seasons and in four of the last nine.
The Aces, who are under the league’s youngest head coach in Luigi Trillo, have not won the all-Filipino title since 2000. They’ve been to the Finals of the All-Filipino or Philippine Cup thrice – 2002, 2009 & 2010 -- in the last 12 years but came up emptyhanded each time, that last one in an embarrassing sweep at the hands of Purefoods.
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The Mixers are in their first best-of-seven semifinal under Cone and in their third straight semis under him overall. San Mig Coffee is looking to enter a third straight conference Finals for the first time in franchise history or since entering the PBA in 1988 as Purefoods.
Rain or Shine is eyeing a second straight championship but first all-Filipino title for itself and Guiao.
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Black and Trillo are in their first-ever best-of-seven semis.
Cone won his last three best-of-seven semis and four of six overall, all with Alaska.
Guiao has been to the most number of best-of-seven semis among all coaches, this being his ninth. He’s also the only coach to reach a best-of-seven semis with three different teams (Rain or Shine, Burger King, and Red Bull).
Guiao however has lost his last six best-of-seven semis after winning his first two with Red Bull during the 2005-06 season.