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Beermen, Aces begin title clash

Calvin Abueva and Arwind Santos clash for the first time in the PBA Finals against
each other. Nuki Sabio/PBA (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

It has been five years since Alaska and San Miguel last figured it out for a PBA title. and 17 years since their last Philippine Cup finals against each other.

After a long time, they are at it for the championship again.

The Aces and the Beermen collide at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup championship round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Both teams took separate ways before entering the Philippine Cup finals.

San Miguel, which finished with the best record en route to an outright Final Four seat, swept Talk 'n Text in one semifinal series, while Alaska, which booked a place in the semis via the two-phase quarterfinals. needed six games before clinching the other finals berth against Rain Or Shine.

However, while San Miguel ended the eliminations with a 9-2 slate, one of its two defeats came against Alaska on November 5.

“Remember they beat us in the elims. We have to find out how to beat them,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria said.

Also, the Aces won their last title clash against the Beermen, the 2010 Fiesta Conference Finals, as well as their most recent Philippine Cup finals series in 1998.

But that did not stop Alaska mentor Alex Compton from saying that San Miguel is a cinch to win its 20th PBA pennant.

“What do they have? Two MVPs (Santos and June Mar Fajardo) surrounded by equally great athletes committed to play a disciplined game,” Compton said.

But Arwind Santos downplayed the favorites tag and said, “Maraming nagsasabing paborito kami, but this is the Finals. Pare-parehas na ang labanan dito. It’s more of a battle of wills. At tingnan nyo naman ang determinasyon ng Alaska.”

About the series opener, both coaches had different opinions.

“Winning Game One is important. It will boost the players’ confidence and morale, and maybe dictate the series,” said Austria

“Yes, it’s important but not much. It’s just one game in a long series,” Compton said on the other hand.

Game 1 is set for a 7:00 PM tip-off.