(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
It's not even a question of who. It's more of a question of who has it to take down the champs
The San Miguel Beermen have just notched their 4th consecutive trip to the Philippine Cup Finals after eliminating the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in Game 5 of their best-of-7 series. And if you've seen Game 5 of that series, not even a triple-double from Scottie Thompson or a 32-point performance from Japeth Aguilar could extend the series to a Game 6 owing to the fact that the Beermen were able to score when it mattered the most, en route to 100-94 victory.
With one Finals slot already taken, the Magnolia Hotshots and the NLEX Road Warriors will play in tomorrow's Game 6 to see whether the Hotshots will finally move onto the Finals or, Kiefer Ravena and the Road Warriors will for a deciding game to know will play dance against the mighty San Miguel squad of June Mar Fajardo.
Who can end the reign of the Beermen in a 7-game series?
To begin with, pundits are stating that the Beermen are heavily favored to win their 4th consecutive Philippine Cup championship and the fact is already given even before the start of the season. Sure, the Beermen dropped 3 games during the elimination phase and lost to Ginebra in Game 3 of their semifinal series but when it mattered the most, the Beermen were able to get the W.
Sure, both Magnolia and NLEX have their respective asernals which they can utilize against San Miguel. For Magnolia, it's the experience of Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis and Peter June Simon plus a rising star in Jio Jalalon. For the Road Warriors, it's the youth and explosiveness of the dynamic duo of Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas.
Who has more firepower to go up against the Beermen? It's going to be the Hotshots, of course. But first, they should be able to finish NLEX first.
Regardless of who will move onto the Finals to take on San Miguel, both Magnolia and NLEX will have their hands full because for one, neither team has the appropriate big man who can go toe-to-toe against the 4-timne MVP, Fajardo. Plus, if you haven't noticed, the Beermen were playing with an unhealthy team with Chris Ross playing through pain and Alex Canagnot was actually confined at the hospital prior to Game 5. And, June Mar Fajardo hasn't gone full-MVP mode against Ginebra.