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SMB, Magnolia in battle of wits

San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo tries to drive past Magnolia's Ian Sangalang (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)
San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo tries to drive past Magnolia's Ian Sangalang (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

by Jonas Terrado

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs San Miguel

San Miguel Beer and Magnolia look to set the tempo and gain the early advantage in the opener of their PBA Philippine Cup Finals rematch at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. with the defending four-time champion Beermen and last season’s Governors’ Cup winner expecting another hard-fought encounter much like what they endured during their respective semifinal victories.

Much has been talked about whether Magnolia now has the tools to end San Miguel’s reign in the season’s biggest tournament after the painful experience of losing 4-1 to the same team in the Philippine Cup.

Magnolia has gone on to win the aforementioned Governors’ Cup trophy last December before enduring multiple obstacles in the current conference.

Beermen coach Leo Austria is sure that his team will have their hands full against the Hotshots.

“It’s going to be lot tougher because Magnolia has matured a lot,” Austria said. “They gained plenty of experience by winning a championship last conference and it could a big help in their cause.”

But Austria also knows that San Miguel won’t be taking a step back as they’re also determined to claim the championship for the seventh time since 2015.

Interesting individual duels lie ahead in the best-of-seven affair with San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo and Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang expected to showcase their individual moves in the paint.

Magnolia’s Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon aim to put their pesky plays on both ends against San Miguel’s backcourt counterparts of Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and Terrence Romeo, who will suit up for his first-ever finals game.

Romeo could also be put in an offensive duel with Magnolia’s Paul Lee while the Beermen’s Marcio Lassiter remains questionable due to a back problem sustained in the semis series against Phoenix Pulse.

SMB’s Christian Standhardinger looks to make up for his failure to win the title in his first try in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup while veteran Rafi Reavis, one of the heroes of Magnolia’s Game 7 semis win over Rain or Shine, eyes his 12th PBA championship.

The role players could also be the difference makers with San Miguel’s Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Von Pessumal and Magnolia’s Rome dela Rosa, Robbie Herndon and Justin Melton posing as potential threats.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Online

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