THEY may be sister teams, but expect no quarters given and none taken when Petron and San Mig Coffee clash for the PBA Governors Cup championship.
As much as they have high for respect each other, coaches Gee Abanilla and Tim Cone see both teams engaging in a fierce battle for the title of the season-ending conference notwithstanding the two teams belonging to the San Miguel Group of Companies.
Cone was the first to draw the line, admitting how "shocked" he was upon learning about the rivalry among the three SMC teams the moment he joined the Mixers from Alaska two years ago.
“We’re sister teams, but we’re certainly not friendly. We’re not friendly to each other, and we’re not gonna be friendly in this series. We’re definitely go at each other,” said the veteran mentor during the press conference for Finals presented by PLDT Telepad Wednesday at the Sambokojin Restaurant in Eastwood City.
Abanilla readily agreed.
“We are all sportsmen here, and if you’re in sports, it’s all about being competitive. You have to compete every time, you have to inspire people. We’re gonna go all-out,” said the rookie coach.
Even the psy war appeared to have rubbed off on the players.
“Laban talaga ito. Walang sister team, sister team pagdating sa Finals,” said two-time league MVP James Yap.
“Things are going to be an all-out war and I can’t wait to get started,” added San Mig rookie guard Alex Mallari, playing in his first league Finals.
Petron big man June Mar Fajardo countered, “Basta bibigyan namin ng magandang laban ang San Mig Coffee.”
Game One of the Finals is set Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
This marks the first time in 13 years the two SMC franchises are meeting for a championship since San Miguel (Petron) beat Purefoods (San Mig) in five games during the 2000 Governors Cup Finals.
Unlike that match-up, nobody sees this best-of-seven series ending in a quick manner.
“Please be reminded that I don’t think this will be a sweep unlike our first and second conferences,” said commissioner Chito Salud.
“With the talent level and the drive on both ends, I just feel it’s gonna go more than four or five games, probably seven games,” said San Mig import Marqus Blakely.
But San Mig forward Joe Devance brought the house down when asked about his fearless forecast.
“I think it’s gonna come down to the final two seconds of Game Seven, and Marcus is fouled by Elijah Millsap and we’re down by one,” Devance begins of his fantasy ending.
“Marcus makes his first one to tie the game, and then he missed the second one. But I tipped it in, and we win Game Seven by two,” added the 6-foot-7 Fil-Am, drawing laughter from mediamen.