SAN Miguel tries to execute the death blow on Alaska and put an emphatic end to its three-year title drought as it goes for the PBA Philippine Cup championship Sunday night before an expected big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen moved a victory short of the title following their 93-88 win over the Aces Friday night to take control of the best-of-seven series for the first time, 3-2.
A third straight win in Game Six set at 7:30 p.m. would give the franchise its first championship since the 2011 Governors Cup and end the team’s All-Filipino title drought after last winning the prestigious tournament in 2001.
June Mar Fajardo led San Miguel’s balanced scoring attack the last time as the Best Player of the Conference awardee finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks shots in yet another dominant performance.
San Miguel has two chances of winning the title, but coach Leo Austria said if given the opportunity, the Beermen would like to end the series right away.
“Binigyan kami ng opportunity. Now we’re here to win a championship, so why not? Kung papalarin kami, napaka-gandang regalo niyan sa aming team dahil lahat ng mga players gusto manalo dahil matagal na rin silang hindi nananalo ng championship eh, lalo na dito sa All-Filipino,” said Austria.
Then again, the soft spoken mentor said finishing off Alaska is easier said than done.
“Mahirap talaga talunin ang Alaska dahil well-prepared sila and every game lagi sila may ibang ginagawa,” said Austria.
“Binabantayan naman namin yun dahil yung coaching staff ko, talagang nagmamasid ng mabuti dun sa changes nila because that is crucial,” he added. “Kung makikita niyo, para itong chess match eh, kanya-kanyang pasok, kanya-kanyang diskarte.”
Alaska coach Alex Compton though still remains confident the Aces are capable of extending the series to a winner-take-all match provided they play smart and under control.
Compton cited the team’s inability to play consistently on the defensive end, which allowed San Miguel to take 40 attempts from the foul line.
“That’s (40 free throws given to San Miguel) a lot. I really thought we were in it and doing some great things pretty much most of the game,” said the American coach, who is in just his second conference with the team.
“But the big thing in a game that close was forty free throws. That’s going to be tough to win games when your opponent gets forty free throws.”
Being in this situation in a championship is nothing new to the Aces.
Then handled by Tim Cone, the team trailed Talk `N Text, 2-3, in the 2007 Fiesta Conference Finals, but stormed back by winning the last two games of the title series to win it.