THE END OR EXTEND?
7 p.m.- Alaska vs. San Miguel Beer
Will the Alaska Aces finally walk with the crown tonight or will the San Miguel Beermen get a new lease on life anew and keep alive their title-retention bid?
Those questions will be answered when the two squads collide for Game 5 of the 41st PBA Philippine Cup Best-of-Seven Finals at 7 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum.
Balloons didn’t fall last Sunday when the Beermen gutted out a 110-104 overtime win in Game 4 to avoid what could have been the franchise’s first-ever sweep in a best-of-seven series.
Alaska still leads the series, 3-1, but another loss tonight could be fatal.
Though Alaska managed to erect a 3-0 series lead, Alaska coach Alex Compton said he still expected the Beermen to come out and put up a tough stand.
“It’s a series. Everybody is talking about sweep. It was a tough team with a bunch of winners that is well-coached. It’s not easy to sweep anybody,” Compton said.
“We’re up 3-1. I think in the Finals, the pressure is on both teams. I can’t imagine their coaches or Mr. Robert Non saying, ‘Ok lang matalo (It’s okay to lose).’ I don’t think the winningest organization in PBA history says, ‘Okay lang matalo. Na-injure naman si June Mar (It’s okay to lose because June Mar’s injured).’ That’s not how it works. I think the pressure is on both of us.”
“I just want to come out of this championship series with a title. It’s not going to be easy,” added Compton, who is looking to win his first crown as an Alaska coach.
The Aces are gunning for their 15th championship and first All-Filipino crown in 16 years.
Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross delivered for San Miguel in Game 4 where they combined for 85 points.
San Miguel, which is eyeing its 21st title, will continue to miss the services of June Mar Fajardo, who is nursing a knee injury that he sustained in semifinal round.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria said Fajardo will still be unavailable tonight but his prized center could still see action if the series reaches Game 7.
“Before the game, I told the players, ‘give us a Game 7 and he will play,” Austria said after their Game 4 win that saw them clawing back from an 11-point deficit in the final 3:30 of regulation.
“His knee is progressing well and he can walk on his own,” said Austria. “February 3 is enough time. He wants to play and I’m the only one preventing him to practice because he’s the future of the PBA, Philippine basketball, of Gilas, of San Miguel, and I don’t want to aggravate his injury.”
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