June Mar Fajardo and San Miguel Beer have long been the dominant force in the all-Filipino tournament, but he and his teammates think their winning history has little value in Game 7 of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup finals.
The Beermen and Magnolia battle with the title on the line at Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
San Miguel is eyeing a fifth straight Philippine Cup crown, and even though this current crop of Magnolia players has been exposed to varying degrees of success, the Hotshots are fresh off crowning themselves Governors’ Cup champions.
That’s why in Fajardo’s mind, Magnolia can’t be taken lightly.
“Hindi pwedeng sabihin advantage kami sa experience, kasi experienced din ang Magnolia. Galing nga sila sa championship,” Fajardo said in a story posted on the PBA website.
“So walang may advantage dito. Lamang kung sino ang mag-e-exert ng mas malalim na effort.”
Fajardo finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds to lead San Miguel to a 98-86 win in Game 6 and equalize the series.
Marcio Lassiter added 20 points and 3 3-pointers, as the Beermen rained 14 triples on Magnolia, which made just 3.
Mark Barroca, whose all-around brilliance and game-winning basket propelled Magnolia to a Game 5 win, struggled across the board in Game 6.
He finished with just 6 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said he sees the 2-time finals MVP playing better. “Mark Barroca is Mark Barroca. He will come back strong on Wednesday,” he said.
When their offense is clicking, the Beermen are difficult to stop. Magnolia, meanwhile, relies on its defense to get it wins.
San Miguel forward Arwind Santos hinted, however, that it would take more than getting buckets to ensure victory.
“Talagang sa effort na ito magkakatalo. Kung sino mas gustong manalo, kung sino ang mas-focused, sila ang kukuha ng Game Seven,” he said.
A virtual underdog in the series, Magnolia has taken the fight to San Miguel by playing a grit-n-grind brand of basketball that has allowed it to battle the Beermen on even footing.
“From the start, all we want is a chance,” Victolero said. “And for as long as there’s a chance, we’ll try to take it.”
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