by Jonas Terrado
Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs San Miguel
(Series tied 3-3)
The defining moment has come for San Miguel Beer and Magnolia as they look to show everything they got for the right to be crowned champion of the PBA Philippine Cup.
The deciding seventh game is set at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Beermen determined to claim their fifth straight crown and the Hotshots looking to emerge as the newest king of the All-Filipino tournament.
A potential photo finish looms in a series that has witnessed a battle of wits, a show of outburst and a sudden cameo by a man dressed in a Spiderman costume.
“People say you’re tired, people say this and that but there’s no excuses when it comes to a Game 7,” said San Miguel’s Chris Ross.
“It’s for everything you’ve worked for in the offseason, everything you’ve worked for in the eliminations. It boils down to this, it’s a one-game winner take all and you can’t ask for anything better than this,” he added.
Ross and the Beermen prevented a Hotshots party last Sunday when they fashioned out a 98-86 victory to force the 27th Game 7 in PBA Finals history.
Coach Leo Austria is determined to keep a perfect batting average in Game 7 and give SMB its seventh championship since he started handling the team in 2014.
Austria is hoping to map out a proper game plan in order to outlast a Magnolia side that has won through its defensive effort and efficient plays on offense.
“The good thing about Magnolia is they keep on competing. They always bring out the best in their opponent and they really pushed our players to the limit,” said Austria.
Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero expects different changes going into the decider but refused to play the role of a Fortune Teller.
“It’s going to be a different story next game although we don’t know what will happen,” said Victolero, who is looking to steer the Hotshots to a second straight title after last year’s conquest of the Governors’ Cup.
SMB’s June Mar Fajardo and Magnolia’s Mark Barroca, leading candidates for the Finals Most Valuable Player award, are expected to deliver great performances for their teams.
But the supporting cast will be play an even more crucial role than Fajardo and Barroca.
Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, Chris Ross, Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo are out to continue the trend of playing well during San Miguel victories.
Otherwise, San Miguel will allow Magnolia to snatch the crown if their usual woes during the three defeats show up at the wrong time.
Ian Sangalang, Jio Jalalon, Rafi Reavis, Rome dela Rosa and Justin Melton are eager to show their efficiency on both ends in order to dislodge SMB from its throne.