The powerhouse San Miguel Beermen are on the final leg of their mission to win the much-coveted Philippine Cup title for the 5th straight season and standing in their way once more are the Magnolia Hotshots.
The Beermen disposed of top-seeded Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters in 5 games while the Hotshots took the entire 7 games of their semifinal series to dispatch of 2nd seed Rain or Shine as both teams from the SMC group advanced to the final round of the all Filipino conference for the second straight season.
San Miguel, though, has entered the championship round of the PH Cup for the 5th straight year and has won the last four stagings. The defending champions have gotten much stronger with the additions of Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo and are installed as heavy favorites to repeat over the Hotshots whom they defeated in 5 games last year.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, however, thinks that his team is in a much better position to battle the Beermen this year compare to the last.
“I think nag-mature na kami. We’ve gained a lot of experience especially with the championship we won last conference. Malaking bagay iyon, yung experience at maturity na tangan na ngayon ng grupong ito,” he said during the pre-finals press conference at the Sambokojin restaurant in Eastwood City.
“Isa lang ang bago sa team namin, si Mike Calisaan. The core group yun pa rin, so magandang chemistry na ang nabuo namin. Malaking bagay yon,” added the one-time PBA champion coach.
Beermen coach Leo Austria agrees with Victolero and believes the Hotshots are better prepared this time around.
“Mabigat ang kanilang mga pinagdaanan na nagbigay sa kanila ng experience at maturity. And I believe they would be very competitive,” said Austria.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven title series is on Wednesday, May 1 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.