MANILA, Philippines - San Mig Coffee, among the most revered PBA ball clubs of all time, will now be out to improve its legacy as it tries to close out its finals duel with Rain or Shine to secure an unprecedented sixth PBA all-Filipino crown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.
The Governors Cup titleholders are also after a first-ever back-to-back championships for the Purefoods/San Miguel Foods franchise as they attempt to finish off the Elasto Painters in Game Five of their PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven title showdown.
For San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, at stake is the recognition as the league’s winningest coach with 16 titles under his belt.
But San Mig Coffee barely pulled through in down-to-the-wire finishes in Game Three and Game Four, and the Mixers are not entertaining illusions that closing out the series in Game Five would be easy.
Game time is at 4:30 p.m. ushered in by Game One of the PBA D-League best-of-three finals between NLEX and Big Chill at 1 p.m.
“We’ve got too much respect for Rain or Shine to take anything for granted. We know the only way to finish this series is to keep pushing and grinding, and that’s what we hope to do,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.
“It’s been an incredibly tight series, and we’ve been fortunate to win the last two games down the stretch. Either could have gone either way,” Cone added.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao insists they’re not about to give up the fight.
“It’s another tough loss (in Game Four). But again, we’re not giving this series up till it’s over. We’ll come back Sunday. We’ll try to get back into this series,” said Guiao.
The fiery Rain or Shine bench chieftain admired how his troops fought back from a 13-point deficit Friday night, and rued not getting the breaks in the end.
“We’ll definitely come back stronger Sunday,” Guiao promised.
Marc Pingris is doubtful for Game Five due to the eye injury he suffered after being accidentally hit by JR Quiñahan during the third quarter Friday.
“He’ll be a game-time decision,” said Cone of Pingris, who did not attend their practice yesterday as he was confined in his home on doctors’ orders.
Nonetheless, the Mixers are pumped up by the fact that they’ve been doing a lot better than the E-Painters in tight, down-to-the-wire battles.
The Mixers were clearly more composed, executing the key plays and making the crucial shots in their 77-76 squeaker in Game Three and 93-90 thriller in Game Four.
The E-Painters came charging back from a 13-point down and wrested a six-point spread early in the fourth quarter only to lose momentum as second-string playmaker TY Tang and rookie center Raymond Almazan substituted for Paul Lee and Beau Belga.
Missed open shots by Jervy Cruz and JR Quiñahan didn’t help either as the E-Painters fell in a hole only a few teams were able to survive.
“There are lots of talk about a few teams able to come back from a 1-3 hole, but I was one of those who blew away a 3-1 lead,” said Cone, recalling his Alaska team’s loss to Purefoods in the 2006 Philippine Cup semis.
“We have to keep working and keep pushing especially against this Rain or Shine team,” Cone also said.