Will it Rain on Mixers parade?
MANILA, Philippines - San Mig Coffee is steaming hot for a storied grand slam but the other side is hell bent not to deliver it – rain or shine.
This is one storyline basketball fans would love to relish hopefully five times as the Mixers and the Elasto Painters begin their best-of-five duel for the PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors Cup crown at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City tonight.
Gametime is at 8 p.m. with the Mixers going for the last gem of a Triple Crown that would cap a sensational season while the Elasto Painters will go for their second PBA championship and a mean label as the spoilers of San Mig’s date with history.
It’s a rematch of their title showdown in the same tournament in 2012 and a repeat of their titular duel in the Philippine Cup early this year.
They split those championship face-offs and will thus engage in a tiebreaker that will mean a second grand slam feat for coach Tim Cone and a second title for RoS under mentor Yeng Guiao.
Cone and his troops could feel the mounting pressure and tried to ease the impact by keeping mum on the magnitude and significance of what’s in store for them the next two weeks.
“The pressure builds the closer you get to it. We don’t talk about it as we don’t want to give ourselves extra pressure,” said Cone, the league’s winningest coach now in his 29th final, sixth with San Mig.
“If it happens, that’s good. If we don’t get the grand slam, we’ll be disappointed, but we’d look at our three titles in the last three conferences and we’ll be proud of ourselves,” Cone added.
San Mig Coffee is on track to be the fourth team in league history to sweep all three titles in a PBA season. If ever, the Mixers would be the first since the 1996 feat of Alaska Milk under Cone.
Guiao, on the other hand, insists their focus is not to stop the San Mig Coffee grand slam drive but to win their own championship.
“If we have a chance to spoil their grand slam, and win our title, it’s good for us,” said Guiao, chasing a seventh PBA crown, second with RoS.
“Whatever happens, they still had won three straight titles. No pressure on them, the pressure is more on us,” Guiao added.
The Mixers are actually in the running for a “Four-Peat,” having won the league’s last three tourneys.
With their star-studded local crew and champion import, the Mixers unarguably set out the odds-on picks in the series.
“(Facing San Mig Coffee) is both intimidating and daunting, but we accept the challenge,” said Guiao.
With practically the same casts, the Mixers beat out the E-Painters, 4-2, in their Philippine Cup best-of-seven title playoffs.
Providing a new look in their titular rematch is the import pair of Marqus Blakely and AZ Reid.
“AZ is a horse. They ride him hard, and he brought them here,” said Cone of the Rain or Shine reinforcement, a top candidate for the Best Import award.
Reid and Blakely, both former Best Import awardees, have been playing the roles they have to play for their respective teams.