After more than 2 weeks out of the limelight, the PBA finally caps its 2017-18 campaign when the Governors' Cup finals between Magnolia and Alaska get underway at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
It has been an action-packed past few days in Philippine basketball, with the UAAP Season 81 finals and the qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup serving as main draw.
The PBA joins the busy week in local hoops with Game 1 of the best-of-7 title series featuring two coaches who are looking for their first league championship.
Game time between Magnolia and Alaska is at 7 p.m.
"(Wednesday) is the start of what I believe will be a tough and exciting finals series," Alaska coach Alex Compton said.
Magnolia shot-caller Chito Victolero agreed. "Parehong fresh ang dalawa, kaya baka mas mataas ang level ng labanan sa series na ito," he said.
The 17- to 18-day layoff made it possible for both squads to rest key players, as Magnolia's Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang and Romeo Travis, and Alaska's Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero healed apparent injuries.
Alaska, eyeing its first title since the 2013 Commissioner's Cup, has known only disappointment on the finals stage under Compton, who lost in the Aces' 4 previous trips there.
Victolero has had only one other appearance in the finals, in this year's Philippine Cup where the Hotshots lost to San Miguel Beer.
Magnolia's last trophy was in the 2014 Governors' Cup, a win that sealed for the franchise the coveted league Grand Slam.
"Magnolia has been playing the best basketball in the PBA all conference," Compton said.
"The way they have defended and moved the basketball lets me know that we better play the best we have played as a team if we want to win this championship."
To get to this stage, both teams went through an acid test.
Alaska topped a tough-playing Meralco 3-1, while Magnolia ousted Justin Brownlee and defending champion Barangay Ginebra by a similar count in their respective best-of-5 semifinals series.
The last time these two clubs at this point in a conference was when Magnolia, then known as Purefoods, swept Alaska 4-0 to win the 2010 Governors' Cup.
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