• Beermen, Aces clash in rubber match

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    San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo drives against Alaska’s Noy Baclao during the finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup. CZAR DANCEL

    San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo drives against Alaska’s Noy Baclao during the finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup. CZAR DANCEL

    Reigning champion San Miguel Beer aims for a historic finish against Alaska in a winner-take all Game 7 of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup best-of-seven championship series on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    The game time is at 7 p.m.

    After losing the first three games in the series, the Beermen made history by winning their last three games to become the first team in PBA history to rise from a 0-3 deficit and tie the championship series to 3-3.

    Austria, however, expects nothing but a tough fight against the Aces.

    “For me Game 7 is a winner-take-all. All those stats sheets from Game 1 to 6 will be put to waste,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria. “I’ am expecting a tough game on Wednesday. We will see again their pressing defense where they (Alaska) are known for.”

    “At least, we were able to take a rest last week because we have no day off. I believe in miracles and it happens every day, this is history in the making. In the playoffs, it’s all basics you have to give all knowledge and skills in basketball,” he added.

    San Miguel outsmarted Alaska in Game 4 in overtime (110-04) and then did the same thing in June Mar Fajardo’s return in Game 5 via an 86-73 overtime win.

    They tied the series with a 100-89 win in Game 6.

    Austria will lean on 6-foot-10 Fajardo along with Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid, Chris Lutz, Yancy De Ocampo, Jay-Reyes, Gabby Espinas, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross.

    San Miguel eyes its 22nd overall title since joining the league in 1975 as one of the founding members.

    The Aces are on the verge of absorbing an upset after holding a commanding 3-0 edge in the series. They won in Game 1 (100-91), Game 2 (83-80) and Game 3 (82-75).

    “We are still in high spirit and high morale,” said Alaska mentor Alex Compton. “We got beat fair and square last Game 6. I thought we did a better job in the first half. We just have to play impressive basketball in Game 7. It’s a one-game knockout for the All-Filipino Championship.” It’s like deja vu all over again.”

    Alaska will bank on Vic Manuel, who led the Aces in scoring (19.8 points) and rebounding (8 per game) during the finals series. Calvin Abueva, Chris Banchero, Nonoy Baclao, Dondon Hontive¬ros, RJ Jazul, Jayvee Casio, Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio and Eric Menk.

    “I believe it will be a great game. Hopefully it is an exciting game for all of the PBA fans,” added Compton. “We have a lot of problems to solve with the strength of their team, but we will just play as hard and as smart as we can and see what happens.”

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