TWO teams with interesting championship battles in not-so-distant past in the PBA are up against each other again in another series that promises to be a lot more exciting.
If you recall, Magnolia twice defeated Rain or Shine in the finals when what was then known as SanMig Coffee completed a grand slam during the 2013-2014 season.
The Hotshots (formerly Coffee Mixers, and then still under coach Tim Cone) defeated the Elasto Painters (then still under coach Yeng Guiao) during the 2014 Philippine Cup, 4-2, and in the Governors’ Cup, 3-2.
On the other hand, one of the Elasto Painters’ two titles came at the expense of the SanMig/Purefoods/B-Meg franchise whom they beat in the finals of the 2012 Governors’ Cup, 4-3.
The two teams had also met in a playoff during the 2016-17 Commissioner's Cup, with the Hotshots sweeping the Elasto Painters in the quarterfinal round. It also marked the first time for Paul Lee and James Yap to play against their respective former teams following a trade.
These and their individual intentions will probably serve as backdrop when the Hotshots and the Elasto Painters meet in the other half of the PBA Philippine Cup Final Four which fires off today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots and the Elasto Painters had contrasting stints back in the elimination, with the former having some troubled times in the early going and needing strong finish to make the playoff round.
The Painters, on the other hand, sported some stability, reason why they ended up top 2 after the 11-game elimination.
In their only meeting in the elimination last Feb. 13, the Painters outlasted the Hotshots, 75-74, in a victory where James Yap and Paul Lee engaged in a thrilling exchange of big baskets at the finish.
The Elasto Painters are going into the 7 p.m. opening tussle of the best-of-7 series enjoying fresh legs, their last outing having been last April 7, the day they defeated NorthPort, 91-85, in the quarterfinal.
The Hotshots may look quite tired after beating Barangay Ginebra in three games in the quarterfinal round, but that nevertheless primed them up for what coach Chito Victolero described as another ‘tough’ series.
"It's all about our grit and will that carried us past Ginebra,” said Victolero, whose Hotshots subdued the Gin Kings last Wednesday, 85-72, to wrap up the best-of-3 quarterfinal series, 2-1.
“Now it's the start of another tough series versus the No. 2 team, and we need to be more determined, have that consistent effort, defensive mindset and the desire to win," added Victolero.
While the Hotshots were working on the Gin Kings, the Painters were watching them, and that probably gave the RoS coaching staff some idea on what to dish out against the Hotshots come their semifinal showdown.
"We have to attack their pressure defense. They did a good job dictating the tempo of the game against Ginebra,” said RoS coach Caloy Garcia. “If we can limit our turnovers and limit their points, I think we can be able to pull off a win.”
The other half of the Final Four pits San Miguel Beer against Phoenix Pulse. The two teams open up their own series tomorrow.