“After a decade, Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer, among the most keenly followed PBA matchups, is finally pitted against each other again in the league’s premier tourney.
Surviving gripping battles in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Final Four, the Gin Kings and the Beermen slug it out for the crown in a best-of-seven playoff beginning Friday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
What turned out to be a preview was their slam-bang 2016 Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal showdown that went the full route.
The Gin Kings topped the Beermen then and subsequently crushed the Meralco Bolts in the finale to end a long eight-year title drought in the league.
But the Beermen are 3-1 up versus the Kings in titular face-offs. They have had two previous Philippine Cup title series, the last one won by Ginebra in 2007.
The Kings, however, have not won the coveted all-Filipino title again since then.
Thus, the 2017 Philippine Cup finale has so much at stake for both sides.
San Miguel Beer hopes to bag the perpetual Emilio “Jun” Bernardino Trophy on a possible Philippine Cup three-peat while Ginebra looks to end a 10-year limbo without winning the tourney.
Both expressed readiness for an expected gut-wrenching battle during the pre-finals press conference at the Sambokojin restaurant in Libis, Quezon City.
PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa said this would surely be a great treat to the fans.
SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua said there would surely be no such thing as sister teams in this showdown.
“Magpapagalingan yan, magandang laban yan,” said Chua.
“Pareho kaming teams from San Miguel Corp. Pero parang magkapatid sa isang bahay, di naming maiiwasan na magbuno,” said San Miguel forward Arwind Santos.
“We want to prove we can win it again,” said Mark Caguiao, one of two remaining players – the other being Jayjay Helterbrand — from the 2007 Ginebra Philippine Cup champion team. (SB)