MANILA, Philippines - The San Mig Coffee Mixers hope to relive the spirit of their 1991 all-Filipino champion team and clinch a title dedicated to the late Purefoods champion coach Ely Capacio.
Coach Tim Cone and his troops try to provide some comfort for the grieving Purefoods/SMC family as they look to finally close out their gut-wrenching finals series with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup championship tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Stalled in Game Five, 74-81, the Mixers are determined to get going again and wrap up the best-of-seven series in Game Six set at 8 p.m. at the Big Dome.
In practice sessions Monday and Tuesday, the mood was so silent, one could feel the Mixers’ great resolve to win the series that, as expected, has turned to be a war of attrition.
After practice Monday, the whole team proceeded to the wake of Capacio, the architect of the first all-Filipino championship of the ballclub in 1991.
“Friend, mentor, pioneer of the league, PF champion coach. Ely Capacio. What a tragic loss. We will miss him. Prayers for him and his family,” Cone posted on his Twitter account.
The Elasto Painters offer their own prayers for Capacio, but insist they’re not giving up the series.
It’s a battle of will in this pivotal game where the Mixers could finally clinch a first-ever back-to-back championships or the E-Painters force a do-or-die game.
Though still in a precarious spot, the E-Painters are hopeful of drawing strength from their decisive seven-point victory in Game Five.
It’s easily the E-Painters’ best game in the series, and coach Yeng Guiao is thinking it could be the “game changer.”
“A win like this can turn around the complexion of the series,” Guiao said after the victory that put them within a game, 2-3, of the Mixers.
The Mixers are wary of letting the E-Painters again live to fight another day.
“Pag nakuha nila Game Six, baka sila pa ang manalo (If they get Game Six, they might go all the way to win the series),” said Marc Pingris in a sports website story.
The energetic 6-foot-4 San Mig forward has decided to defy doctor’s orders for him to sit out the remaining games of the series due to the current condition of his poked right eye.
He bucked a blurry sight Sunday, coming through with game-highs of 18 points and 15 rebounds that went to naught with their loss.
“The big advantage is still on their side. But we’ll take a lot of encouragement and hope (on our Game Five win),” Guiao said.
“We’ll try to delay or postpone the celebration of San Mig Coffee. If we can delay it enough, it can be our celebration,” Guiao added.