Return bout

April 29, 2019
Champion San Miguel
Two days before they kick off their PBA Philippine Cup championship series, the San Miguel Beermen and the Magnolia Hotshots gather for a souvenir shot during the customary pre-championship press conference yesterday. The players led by June Mar Fajardo, Paul Lee and Terrence Romeo, Magnolia’s representative to the PBA Board Rene Pardo and SMB counterpart Robert Non as well as coaches Leo Austria (SMB) and Chito Victolero (Magnolia) said a thing or two about their team’s chances in the best-of-seven series. Joining the two teams in the photo-op was PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial. (PBA Images)

Beermen face a ‘different’ Hotshots side in the PH Cup finals.

MAGNOLIA goes into its title rematch with defending champion San Miguel now well-equipped as the two proud franchises renew their rivalry in the coming PBA Philippine Cup finals.

Coach Chito Victolero said the experience gained by the Hotshots in their two finals appearances last season, including winning the Governors’ Cup championship, augurs well for the team going to the best-of-seven series that kicks off tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“We gained a lot of experience. Nag-mature na kami,” said Victolero during the pre-finals press conference Monday at the Sambokojin Restaurant in Eastwood.

“Last conference we won a championship and I think malaking bagay yun para sa grupong ito. Malaking tulong yun.”

The Beermen, reigning four-time champion, beat the Hotshots in the All-Filipino title series last year, 4-1.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria believes the Beermen are facing a different Magnolia team this time.

“They are really dangerous, they gained a lot. Unang-una yung experience and then nag-mature na sila,” said Austria, who joined Victolero in the presentation along with members of both teams, governors Robert Non (San Miguel) and Rene Pardo (Magnolia), and league Commissioner Willie Marcial.

And just like the rest of the field, Austria knows teams are out to topple the Beermen, the Hotshots included.

“Every team in the PBA is thinking how to beat San Miguel,” said Austria, whose team made the finals by making short work of Phoenix in the semis, 4-1. “Lahat ng teams (sa PBA) is very competitive.”

But the three-time Coach of the Year stressed his team knows what is at stake here.

“Yung habit na yan (winning) parang lifestyle na nila. Ayaw naming matalo,” said Austria.

Victolero did admit that despite gaining a lot, the Hotshots remain the underdogs in the series, especially being pushed to the limit after outlasting Rain or Shine in overtime 63-60, in the deciding Game 7 of their semis series.

The addition of Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo to San Miguel’s roster is definitely a big factor.

“Malaking tulong yung dalawa compared nung last year na wala sila,” he said. “Kami naman gagawin na lang kung ano ang kaya, so we just have to be prepared with that.”