FOR two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) James Yap, Game Six of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup Finals is nothing less than a do-or-die encounter for San Mig Coffee.
Yap said the Mixers are going all out in Wednesday’s match against Rain or Shine, saying every one in the team knows the danger of allowing Rain or Shine to extend the series to a deciding Game Seven.
“Ayaw na naming magka-Game Seven (ang series),” declared Yap, San Mig Coffee’s acknowledged heart and soul, on the prospect of the All-Filipino Finals reaching a winner-take-all match.
The Mixers cruised to a commanding 3-1 series lead but suddenly found themselves under pressure after the Elasto Painters snapped a three game skid following an 81-74 win in Game Five on Sunday night.
“Sa amin dapat hanggang Game Six lang 'yan. Rain or Shine siyempre gusto nila Game Seven. Kami hindi na kami papayag. Do-or-die na kami sa Game Six,” said the soft-spoken San Mig star.
The 32-year-old Escalante, Negros Occidental native believes revitalizing the Mixers’ defensive clamp on Rain or Shine's gunners will put San Mig back on track and, hopefully, put an end to the title series.
“Kailangan maging consistent kami sa defense namin, nakakatira 'yung mga shooters nila eh. Kailangan double effort kami,” Yap said.
The former University of the East stalwart was part of the 2006 Purefoods team that dealt Alaska – then still handled by now San Mig coach Tim Cone - a stinging Philippine Cup upset by coming back from a 1-3 deficit to win their semifinals match-up.
Asked if it would trouble him if and when the series reaches a decisive Game Seven, Yap was unpertubed.
“Eh laban na talaga 'yun kung sakali (na may Game Seven). Three times harder na ang game 'nun. Pero syempre sisikapin naming huwag nang umabot pa run. Alam namin ang pressure na dala nun,” he said.
The Mixers held light practices on Monday and Tuesday to better conserve their banged-up bodies for the crucial stretch of the series.
Cone only had a short, two-hour practice on Tuesday at the Ronac gym in San Juan, spending most of the time on a team huddle and video viewing.
Monday the team had a run-through on its defensive adjustments before the team went to the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque to pay tribute to former team coach and San Miguel Beer governor Ely Capacio.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine star Beau Belga bared how the Elasto Painters will try to move heaven and earth to force a rubber-match on Friday.
“Alam namin na mas pagod sila. Nagkataon lang talaga na naghabol kami sa series dahil naka-tatlo silang sunod sa amin. Pero alam namin na susi para makuha namin ang championship kung makukuha namin ang Game Six bukas,” said Lee.
“Gaya nga ng sinabi ni coach Yeng (Guiao) bago nag start ang finals, the longer the series, the better for us. Mas may pahinga kami kumpara sa kanila na inabot ng Game Seven ang semis, kami five games lang sa Petron, di ba?” said the Gilas Pilipinas reserve frontliner.
“Talagang labasan na ng baraha ito at kung ano dapat ilabas, patibayan na ito. Kung sino unang sumuko, sigurado talo,” said Belga, who revealed fatigue is also catching up on the Elasto Painters although they had the luxury of a one-week rest compared to San Mig which only had a day to prepare for the Finals.
The wide-bodied Gubat, Sorsogon pride also shares what Guiao told them in practice on the eve of Game Six, saying, “Sabi niya, mind games na ito. Dito na masusukat ang mental toughness namin.”