MANILA, Philippines - Just as the PBA is about to turn 40, the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers is about to add another special chapter in league history.
In a fairytale ride with coach Tim Cone, the Mixers are a heartbeat away from breaking into the league’s elite circle of grand slam champion ball clubs.
Cone and the Mixers take their first of two cracks at completing a sweet sweep of all crowns in PBA Season 39 as they battle the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at 8 p.m. tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
One more win, and San Mig Coffee would wrap up an extra special championship – the first back-to-back Governors Cup conquests by any team in the league in 14 years, the first PBA “Four-Peat” in 17 years and the first PBA grand slam in 18 years.
No other team has ever come close to achieving this feat.
A run involving tears, sweat and, yes, even blood, the Mixers hope to wash these away with championship wines tonight – rain or shine.
The Mixers moved to the threshold of the Triple Crown following a 78-69 win in a low-scoring defensive battle before a crowd of nearly 18,000 at the Big Dome Saturday.
After the two teams split the first two games fighting big shots after big shots, San Mig Coffee beat out Rain or Shine in a game of stops to gain the pivotal 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
The ever-cautious Cone maintains, though, that the series is far from over.
Cone isn’t discounting anything that Rain or Shine can do.
“I have too much respect for this team. They’re the mentally strongest team that you can play. Nothing seems to faze them,” said Cone.
“We need to battle all the way through especially against this team more than any other team. They don’t break down,” Cone also said.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said they would stop to battle only when the battle is over.
“We’re down 1-2 but I don’t think it’s the end. I don’t think it’s ending (today),” said Guiao.
“We’ll find a way to force another game and we’ll see. We’d been in the same situation in our semifinal series against Alaska. Down 1-2, we won the next two games to win the series. We hope to make the same thing here,” Guiao also said.
Guiao, however, said they just can’t rely too much on AZ Reid.
“AZ was trying very hard to carry us on his shoulder but it won’t happen by his lonesome,” said Guiao.
Marqus Blakely and his San Mig teammates have been playing a far more balanced game, and this was very evident in Game Three where four Mixers scored in double figures and four others adding at least six points each.
Reid came through with 31 points but the next Rain or Shine best scorer was Beau Belga with eight.