SAN Mig Coffee, aiming for its third consecutive title, face underdog Air 21 Express in Game 1 of the best-of-five semifinals today of the 39th Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
After beating defending champion Alaska Aces, 2-1, in a tough quarterfinals battle, the Coffee Mixers enjoyed two days of rest before facing the Express in the lone game tonight at 8 p.m.
The Express under coach Franz Pumaren got through second seed San Miguel Beer in two straight games to make it to the semifinals.
“There’s no doubt Air 21 is the dragon slayer. They are going to come out big in the semis with a hope of slaying another dragon. And as one of the bigger dragon in this league, I think they’re gonna try and slay us as well, said the 16-time champion coach Tim Cone of San Mig Coffee.
The Coffee Mixers want to prove their mastery over the Express, whom they crushed, 97-84, in their elimination round match on April 9, through the effort of import James Mays, Peter June Simon, Marc Pingris, Joe Devance and James Yap.
“We were able to slay the dragon [San Miguel Beer]. Basketball experts did not give us a chance to be in the next round. We’re the gatecrashers in the semis. We were able to prove something that despite of our line-up, our team effort was able to survive. Our players believe in what we are doing, we overachieved already but I hope my players won’t be just satisfied that we got into the semis,” said Pumaren, who will rely mostly on ageless Asi Taulava and import Wesley Witherspoon.
The winner between San Mig Coffee and Air 21 Express will face the victor between Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine in the best-of-five finals. Both the unbeaten Tropang Texters and no. 4 seed Elasto Painters were still playing in Game One at press time.