AIR21 tries to get closer to a top four finish when it collides with defending champion San Mig Super Coffee in the PBA Governors Cup’s lone game on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 8 p.m.
The game marks the first meeting between the two teams since the Express pushed the Mixers to the limit in their best-of-five semifinal series in the Commissioner’s Cup.
San Mig eventually took the title after beating Talk ‘N Text, 3-1 in the Finals for its third straight PBA championship, putting it in position to go for a rare grand slam this season.
“We want to be in the top four and we have to go through San Mig to get there so it’s a big game and a big test for us,” said Air21 veteran slotman Asi Taulava, who is one of the biggest reasons for the Express’ emergence as a title contender in the season-ending conference.
The 6-10 Taulava is averaging MVP-like numbers of 17.8 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists this conference, forming a dreaded frontline combination with athletic import Dominque Sutton, who is norming 24.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals per contest.
The two teams are currently tied at 4-2 with idle Barangay Ginebra in the upper bracket of the standings.
But with the race for the top four getting tighter following Rain or Shine’s decisive 117-108 victory over Ginebra on Sunday in Binan, Laguna, Taulava said they will have to come up with a solid defensive mindset against the three-time PBA champions.
“We’re excited for our match up after that semifinal series against them (Mixers). We just need to come with a defense mindset,” he added.
On the other hand, San Mig gunner Peter June Simon said the Mixers will just have to forget about their recent 84-93 loss to Alaska and focus on the task of coming out with a win against Air21.
“Iyun (to four finish) talaga ang goal namin,” said Simon, who was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 field goal shooting against the Aces last week.
“Sabi nga sa amin ni coach (Tim Cone) na huwag kami papa-apekto sa isang talo lang. Malaking chance pa rin naman kami sa top four so naka-focus na lang kami sa Air21,” he added.