SAN Miguel Beer and Magnolia finally launch their respective campaigns in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup today, 21 days since their grueling seven-game finals confrontation in the last Philippine Cup.
The Beermen, who defeated the Hotshots in Game 7 to clinch the first conference, take on NorthPort in the second game at 7 p.m. while the Hotshots play Alaska at 4:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Having won the first conference, the Beermen are on path for another grand slam in the PBA, but SMB coach Leo Austria just would not want to think that far.
“We’re not thinking about the grand slam. What we’re thinking about is (winning) the next conference. Just one game at a time,” Austria said in previous interview.
As much as everybody wants to achieve that rare feat, it is the least thing that the Beermen are thinking about this stage in the season.
“Everybody wants a grand slam, but we have to win another championship in the second conference,” explained the multi-titled bench tactician, stressing that the Beermen are in for rough sailing this conference owing to the seeming remarkable improvements the other teams have been showing.
Already formidable with star-studded roster that includes June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger, the Beermen are expected to become even tougher as they will be reinforced by Charles Rhodes.
The Batang Pier are doing quite well in the import-laced conference, what with the inspired performances of Stanley Pringle, rookie Robert Bolick, Garvo Lanete, and Sean Anthony among others.
However, they lost in their last outing to Barangay Ginebra, 73-70, their first after a 3-0 start in the midseason conference.
The Hotshots meanwhile are quite wary in their initial outing, because they are playing an Alaska team that has already played five games.
“Hopefully, ‘yung two week’s preparation namin for this conference was enough and for our first game,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “Again ‘yung timing lang naman ang problema namin. Sana makuha namin agad yung timing at ‘yung chemistry with our import.”
“It’s very tough game for us because Alaska will play its 5th game. Kami mag-start pa lang, so ‘yung cohesion and rhythm nila maganda na, but we will try our best to compete,” added Victolero.