Express target first Final 4 vs Beermen
MANILA, Philippines - Air21 tries to complete a major breakthrough while San Miguel Beer hopes to avert a big disaster as they slug it out in a do-or-die setto in their PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals matchup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.
The Express – in their Shopinas lineage – pursue a first-ever Final Four appearance while the Beermen, as the playoffs second seeds, look to avoid a huge reversal as they clash in a lone Friday tiff at 8 p.m.
“I hope we continue to do what we’re capable of doing,” said coach Franz Pumaren moments after steering Air21 to a first-ever playoff game win Tuesday.
The Express surprised the Beermen with a dominant showing, fashioning out a wire-to-wire 92-79 victory to force a rubber match in their Final Eight faceoff.
It’s already an achievement for the three-year-old Bert Lina-owned franchise. The question is whether the Express are capable of breaking further ground.
For the record, Air21/Shopinas has yet to win back-to-back games in the last three tourneys and yet to finish above eighth place in its first seven conferences in the league.
The Express, however, look determined to defy the odds versus the Beermen.
“We expect San Miguel Beer to be prepared. Our main intention is to get our points by holding them down,” said Pumaren.
Curiously, three former Beermen in Pumaren, Joseph Yeo and Asi Taulava (Beerman in the ABL) gave SMB much beating Tuesday.
“This year is the (25th) anniversary of San Miguel Beer when we won the grand slam. It’s a weird feeling playing on the opposite end,” said Pumaren, a Beerman during SMB’s dominant era in the 80s.
Sean Anthony poured in a personal conference-high 25 points as he hit great stride with Wesley Witherspoon and Taulava resting on the bench for quite a while in the final half due to fouls.