• Beermen aim to equalize series in Game 6

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    Junmar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer prepares to pass a ball through the defense of Nonoy Baclao of Alaska in Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCE

    Junmar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer prepares to pass a ball through the defense of Nonoy Baclao of Alaska in Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCE

    Alaska will try to dethrone San Miguel Beer in Game 6 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.

    The game time was set at 7 p.m.

    After winning the first three games of the series – Game 1 (100-91), Game 2 (83-80) and Game 3 (82-75), the Aces absorbed back-to-back losses in Game 4 (104-110) and Game 5 (76-83) though they are still enjoying a 3-2 lead. The Beermen won the last two games in overtime.

    “They’ve been effective,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton of San Miguel Beer’s performance in Game 4 and 5. “I’m just pointing out facts. Thought we got some good shots, we lost twice in overtime. Credit to SMB they played well in the last two games. Hopefully we get back in Game 6.”

    “So far, the team is very positive and the morale remains high. We just need to be consistent in all aspects,” he said. “We have a good practice today [Thursday], we did a lot of adjustments and we are hoping that we’re going to win it tomorrow,” he said.

    Compton cited the disparity of fouls called on the Aces and the Beermen. San Miguel Beer connected 23 points in 35 attempts in the foul line, while Alaska only had 3-of-5 free throw attempts in Game 5.

    “I think that has an impact in the game, don’t you? It’s going to be difficult to win if your opponent is rewarded consistently with 30 free throws. We missed a lot of shots too. I have no other statements to make than that,” he added. “I’m only pointing out facts and I don’t like to say anything like that. We just have to be consistent with our pressure defense,” Compton stressed.

    The Aces are aiming to capture their 15th overall title and fourth Philippine Cup crown since joining the league in 1986.

    Alaska’s Vic Manuel, who led the Aces in the finals series with 19.8 points and eight rebounds in five games, is expected to lead the charge with teammates Calvin Abueva, Jayvee Casio, Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul, Dondon Hontiveros, Cyrus Baguio, Eric Menk and Sonny Thoss.

    Manuel, the prime candidate for Finals Most Valuable Player award, averaged 15.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this conference.

    San Miguel Beer, for its part, eyes to equalize the series and send the championship round to a rubber match.

    “We just need one more win to reach Game 7 and two games to retain the title. I told my players to play hard and I’m really happy with the result,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “Everybody was inspired to see June Mar [Fajardo] play. I hope the players will sustain their energy.”

    “I’m 100 percent okay although I felt some minor pains. But I can do it. So far, I’m not thinking about my stint in Gilas Pilipinas. My concern right now is to win the championship for San Miguel Beer,” Fajardo told The Manila Times.

    “But I have to admit that I’m very excited that we’re hosting one of the three qualifiers [for the Olympics]. I’m excited to play [against]France,” Fajardo added.

    Besides Fajardo, San Miguel Beer will also lean on Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, Ronald Tubid, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Jay-R Reyes and Yancy De Ocampo.

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