September 26, 2017

San Miguel's grand slam dream on the line against defending champ Ginebra

It could have been a bigger spectacle if it were to unfold later in the conference.

Imagine a season finale with a team chasing a grand slam on one side and a squad defending a title on the other side.

Instead, San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra stake their ambitious bids against each other just in the first round of the PBA Governors Cup playoffs.

As the higher seed, Ginebra has two cracks in the semifinals against one by San Miguel. The Kings take their first shot in a 7 p.m. battle with the Beermen at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Wednesday.

The two elite teams under the giant San Miguel Corp. conglomerate have found themselves in a quarterfinal pairing as both dropped their last games in the elimination round.

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The Kings went down to a 92-121 rout by the TNT KaTropa Texters while the Beermen succumbed on the Meralco Bolts' searing second-half fightback, 101-104.

More painful was San Miguel's setback as it dropped the team all the way to a sixth-place finish. Thus, the Beermen now face a tough "twice-to-win" situation in the quarters.

The Beermen, however, remain hopeful.

"I've always had confidence with my team. We're very confident going in," said Commissioner's Cup Best Player of the Conference Chris Ross.

"There's never any pressure; this is just basketball. All of us are playing basketball for a long time. We've all been in this situations and there's never been any pressure," Ross added.

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Serving as their inspiration was their "Beer-acle run" in the 2016 Philippine Cup finals where they made history as the first team to ever dig themselves out of a 0-3 hole to win a championship.

They also draw inspiration on their 107-103 conquest of the Beermen in their elims matchup.

It's a dream playoff matchup between two teams with able players on all spots.

And it's a rematch of their PBA Philippine Cup title playoff where the Beermen emerged triumphant.

The Kings ended on the losing side then, but they're setting out for the grudge match with their tested import Justin Brownlee.

Then there's the ever interesting showdown between June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter - two giants with a rivalry dating back to their collegiate days in Cebu.

The winner advances to the semifinals versus the victor in the TNT KaTropa-Rain or Shine slugfest.