MANILA, Philippines – The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters will wage a final battle for all the marbles as they tangle in the do-or-die Game 5 of the PBA Governors Cup Finals Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine postponed San Mig's Grand Slam party with an 88-79 victory in Game 4 last Monday, and the best-of-five series is now down to one last game that Coach Tim Cone has described as a "50-50" contest.
"I want to say 'sayang' because we had an opportunity to close this thing [Monday night], and now it comes down to a 50-50 game," Cone said after Game 4. "We're just gonna come out and see what we can do."
"We knew we were gonna have to try to beat this team one more time, and we knew it was gonna be hard," he added.
Cone noted that there was more pressure on the Mixers than on the Elasto Painters, as his team was trying to accomplish the historic feat of winning all three championships in a single season -- which has happened only four other times in league history.
"There was more pressure on us than there was on them," he said. "We're trying to close them out, we're trying to do something special, and I felt the pressure was on us more."
"This team has done a really good job of handling pressure in the past, but there's a special kind of pressure that goes on right now."
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, for his part, insisted that their ultimate goal was not to spoil San Mig's Grand Slam hopes.
"We're not trying to spoil their Grand Slam ambitions, but we have our own ambitions too," said the fiery head coach. "We want to win a championship."
Rain or Shine had used a barrage of triples in the second quarter of Game 4 to take control of the contest, then fought off San Mig's brief rallies in the second half to preserve the win.
"It's really hard, physically and mentally, just to sustain that kind of aggressiveness," Guiao said of his team's performance in Game 4. "But that's what we need to win a championship on Wednesday."
Guiao believes that Game 5 will follow the pattern of the series -- that is, the winner will be the team who plays harder.
"They won Game 1 because they played harder than we did. In game 2, we worked harder so we won Game 2. Game 3 they worked harder than we did so they won it, and in Game 4 I think we worked harder than they did," he said.
It will also be a "matira ang matibay" type of contest," Guiao said.
"Talagang patibayan sa schedule at sa klase ng laro. It's really very physical out there on the floor, so you have to be able to take all of that. We were just able to take that a little better than they did in (Game 4)," he said.
But Guiao does not think that their comfortable win in Game 4 means that they will have the momentum for the do-or-die contest.
"There's no guarantee that anything can sustain it. Napakahirap eh. One day you have that energy, and the next day, the next game, you don't have it," he said.
Cone, for his part, noted that both teams are well-experienced in playing in knockout games and thus records should be thrown out the window.
"We've been experienced in playing them, but each one is different and it really doesn't matter what your record is in playing them," he said. "It's just one game."
"We'll try to reach back on our experiences in previous knockout games, but you know, Rain or Shine has been through a lot of knockout games also, and Yeng is very successful with them," Cone added.
"I don't think either team really has an edge going into this Game 5."
A victory for Rain or Shine will give them only their second championship in franchise history. Meanwhile, for the San Mig Coffee Mixers, winning the game will put their franchise on level with Crispa, San Miguel Beer and Alaska, who have previously won Grand Slams in the PBA.
A win for the Mixers will also make Cone the only coach to win Grand Slams with two different teams, as he was the architect of Alaska's run in 1996.
Game time is at 8 p.m.