Defending champion San Miguel Beer will aim for a historic fourth consecutive Philippine Cup title and its 25th overall when it battles Magnolia in Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Beermen are jumping into the 7 p.m. fray confident, holding a commanding 3-1 lead.
But San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria, who is eyeing his sixth title in the pro league, is not allowing his wards to lower their guard.
“Everything is still possible to happen so we do not want to be complacent at the moment. There is still a chance left for them (Magnolia) even if we’re leading by 3-1. You know what happened two years ago,” said Austria pertaining to San Miguel Beer’s historic comeback from a 0-3 deficit, winning a fourstraight games in the 2016 Philippine Cup finals against Alaska.
“They still have gas in their tank hence we should have a good start next game. And knowing Magnolia, they will not give up. It is very evident in the last game,” added Austria, referring to San Miguel Beer’s 84-80 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday.
June Mar Fajardo, fresh from bagging his sixth straight Best Player of the Conference award, is expected to repeat or even double his Game 4 output of 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in Game 5. Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos are also expected to step up to finish off the Hotshots.
Cabagnot had 27 points, Lassiter 18 points, while Santos finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds in Game 4.
Hotshots coach Chito Victolero remains hopeful despite their situation.
“One-three down is a tough one but I’m still positive and nothing is impossible,” said Victolero, noting that Game 4 is Magnolia’s best game in the series. “To win a championship, they need four wins so they still need to win on Friday.”
“That’s the positive there, the series is not yet over.”
Ian Sangalang, who had an impressive 22-point and 11-rebound performance in their last game, will attempt anew to stop Fajardo with the support of Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Rome Dela Rosa, Aldrech Ramos and Paul Lee.