|Beginning Friday, both San Miguel and Purefoods will seriously pursue the PBA Philippine Cup title. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
YOU usually see The Dossier section of Game Analysis for football, but I just can't pass doing one for basketball, especially in a big-time PBA Philippine Cup Finals like this.
San Miguel and Magnolia will take centerstage in the championship series of the season-opening conference, and in this edition of The Dossier, we'll take a look at some interesting stories regarding both teams.
Meet the challengers
|The former "Kings of All-Filipino" are back in the PBA's biggest finals. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
The Beermen need no further introduction because after all, they're the defending three-peat champs.
However, in their title defense this year, they will face yet another different challenger that actually has a rich history in the former All-Filipino Cup.
The Hotshots were once known as the "Kings of All-Filipino" considering that they won six titles in the said conference.
In fact, they were the last Philippine Cup champs in 2014--their grand slam year--before the Beermen built the three-peat from 2015-2017. The three-peat was enough for the latter to overtake the former as the winningest Philippine Cup team and somehow cementing its status as the current Philippine Cup top gun.
Now that the Purefoods franchise is back in the tournament it usually ruled before, the club has a chance to not just stop SMB's four-peat bid but also reclaim its status as the best all-Filipino squad.
The final stage of a tough four-peat bid
|Behind these six guys, San Miguel has built a modern-day PBA dynasty. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
Many are saying that this is the Beermen's toughest playoff route in its current championship era anchored upon Coach Leo Austria, Junemar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, and Arwind Santos.
SMB needed to beat TNT in the quarterfinals before eliminating Ginebra in five games in the semis.
Enter Magnolia, which curiously was once the name of the SMB franchise.
Like the Beermen, the Hotshots ended their elimination phase stint at the top two, making them legit threats to the Beermen's title defense.
Not to mention that Magnolia played inspired basketball during the semifinals against NLEX, especially since Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury. The team has been dedicating the games to its star big man.
A rivalry revisited
|After four years, they meet again for all the marbles. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
In this era where the "Manila Clasico", the SMB-TNT, and the SMB-Ginebra rivalries are much hyped, the SMB-Purefoods rivalry is something not to be overlooked.
This is the eighth time the Beermen and the Hotshots meet in the PBA finals with former leading their head-to-head series, 5-2.
However, the second finals win of Magnolia turned out to be their last clash, and while the modern-day momentum is on SMB, history may favor Magnolia a bit especially with a "spell" that every time Purefoods makes a name change, the team goes on to win a title in the season immediately succeeding the makeover (e.g. 1993 Philippine Cup as Coney Island, 2012 Commissioner's Cup as B-Meg, and 2013 Governors' Cup and 2014 Grand Slam as San Mig Coffee).
They may be sister teams, but I am expecting a blockbuster showdown for all the marbles. I won't be surprised if this series goes the full seven-game route.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno