The wait is finally over.
Goliaths San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra finally begin their all-out war as they open their much anticipated best-of-seven championship showdown in the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
Game 1 is scheduled at 7 p.m. tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with both teams eager to come out of the gates swinging.
With all their early tournament struggles behind them, San Miguel Beer and Ginebra are peaking when it matters most with both playing at a very high level leading up to the finals.
The Beermen and the Gin Kings, who have won 10 of their last 11 games dating back to the eliminations, both easily dismantled their respective foes in the semifinals to arrange their titanic battle ahead.
Defending champion San Miguel Beer annihilated Alaska while Ginebra shrugged off top seed Rain or Shine in the semis with both series ending at 3-1.
Looking forward, coaches of the protagonists see a tough grind ahead of them given how loaded both powerhouses are in terms of talent and depth.
“Of course, our players want to win another championship and also defend our crown. We’re a veteran team and we will be focused and ready,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria, who is now gunning for his seventh title as Beermen coach. “However, we can’t be complacent against Ginebra.”
“San Miguel is probably one of the greatest teams in the PBA ever but I believe we can match up well with them and we’ll see where that takes us,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who is looking to add to his championship record of 19 titles as a mentor.
There are a lot of talked about match-ups in this war of star-studded teams.
The face-off between leading Best Player of the Conference candidate and four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter will certainly be the center of attraction as the two dominant big men will face each other for the first time in a championship series.
Also, former teammates Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman, who helped carry Alab Pilipinas to a championship in the Asean Basketball League two months ago, will now be matched-up against each other.
The battle of the backcourts is also expected to create fireworks as the deadly trio of Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter will take on LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Jeff Chan.
The last time these two teams met in a finale, the Beermen owned the Gin Kings, 4-1, in last season’s Philippine Cup.