Arch-rivals San Miguel Beer, Alaska begin 41st PBA Philippine Cup Finals showdown
Game 1, Best-of-7 Finals
5 p.m.- Alaska vs. San Miguel Beer
A showdown that has all the makings of a great battle begins as the defending champions San Miguel Beermen and the Alaska Aces face off in Game 1 of the 41st PBA Philippine Cup Best-of-Seven Finals today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The opener of the championship duel may have San Miguel playing without its dominating big man June Mar Fajardo, who sustained a knee injury in their 90-82 win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Friday.
The Cebuano behemoth hurt his left knee when he was nudged from behind by Rain or Shine guard Jireh Ibanez as they battle for position in a rebounding battle in the 7:11 mark of the third.
Fajardo was stretchered off the court and was later taken to the hospital. The Beermen, however, survived his premature departure, completing their comeback from a 15-point first half deficit to win the series, 4-2.
Team manager Gee Abanilla said in an Inquirer.net report that Fajardo’s injury was not serious and the leading Best Player of the Conference contender could suit up in the series.
“We are confident that he will be ok for the series,” Abanilla said.
“That’s not true! Most likely he can’t play tomorrow and we don’t know until when,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria reacting to a separate report that Fajardo is already out of the series.
With or without Fajardo, the title match is expected to be an explosive one.
San Miguel and Alaska are facing off in the Finals for the third time in the last four conferences. The teams met in last season’s Philippine Cup Finals that went the full seven-game route before the Beermen escaped with the crown.
The two squads, who have a combined 65 finals appearances, also battled in last year’s Governors’ Cup Finals that saw the Beermen dominating the Aces for a clean 4-0 sweep.
Overall, the two teams are in their ninth championship showdown and third in an All-Filipino Conference. San Miguel is on its 36th finals appearance, while Alaska is in the championship round for the 29th time.
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