MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen were in no mood to see their dynasty in the All-Filipino Conference come to an end on Sunday night.
Down 2-3 in their best-of-seven finals series against the Magnolia Hotshots, the Beermen came up with an impressive effort in Game 6 on Sunday. They limited the Hotshots to just 12 points in the opening frame, built a 21-point lead, then weathered Magnolia's comeback attempts in the second half.
Their 98-86 victory sent the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup finals to a deciding Game 7.
"Kahit papaano kinabahan kami ng konti sa kanila kasi naka-una sila sa series eh, isa na lang magcha-champion na sila," admitted San Miguel's veteran forward, Arwind Santos.
"Mabuti na lang nahinto namin 'yung pagbagsak ng mga lobo. Pagkatapos nung game, nung nanalo na kami, sabi ko para sa 'tin dapat 'yang lobo na 'yan 'pag bumagsak," he added.
For the past four seasons, of course, the Beermen were the ones celebrating when the balloons and confetti dropped from the Big Dome's cavernous ceiling. They can still have that celebration on Wednesday, when they play the Hotshots in the winner-takes-all contest at the Araneta Coliseum.
But Santos is the first to warn that it won't be an easy task. They have repeatedly fallen behind Magnolia in the best-of-7 series, and even in Game 6 – when they raced to a huge lead – the Hotshots threatened to make a comeback.
"Nahabol pa nga 'yung malaking lamang namin eh, kaya kailangan talaga hindi ka dapat overconfident sa Magnolia," noted Santos.
"Kailangan 'pag may kalamangan, hindi ka magre-relax kasi nahahabol talaga nila kami eh. Siguro isa 'yun sa kailangan namin himayin o pagaralan para hindi sila makadikit ng ganun."
"Minsan talaga, ang Magnolia magaling din. 'Di mo dapat sila ibalewala lang," he stressed.
One advantage that San Miguel has is that they are well-versed in playing Game 7s. They needed to go the distance to win their first two titles in the All-Filipino Cup, after all, including their famed "Beeracle" run of 2016.
However, Santos believes that at this point, experience will not be the deciding factor in the do-or-die game.
"Hindi 'yun 'yung pinaguusapan kasi kung titignan mo sila rin may experience eh," he said.
"Yung effort ba, kung gaano ka ka-agresibo, 'yun 'yung magdadala nung game eh. Kung sino mas may gusto, siya makakakuha ng Game 7," he added.
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