Unpredictable SMB-Ginebra PBA Finals
By Al S. Mendoza
THIS was written hours before Game 4 was to start between San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra on Friday, August 3.
Tyranny of deadline, they say.
Both teams are presently battling for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup in a best-of-seven series.
As I write this, San Miguel Beer was leading Ginebra at 2-1 in a nerve-wracking Finals that produced all three results by lopsided margins.
First time in PBA history that three successive games had produced winning margins breaching the 20-point mark.
Drawing first blood to use a cliché, Ginebra routed Ginebra in Game One by 28 points.
When everyone thought the Gin Kings had the momentum and would proceed to win Game Two—easily at that, again—the opposite happened.
The Beermen unbelievably came back strong and, with vengeance written all over their faces, bamboozled the Gin Kings by 25 points.
And with the series tied at 1-1, and both games ending via identical routs, the fans expected Game Three to be a close fight.
San Miguel Beer continued to unleash its ferocious game and practically xeroxed its deadly Game Two performance to annihilate Ginebra by 34 points in Game Three.
So baffling were the results of the first three games that even the self-styled experts of the sport were thrown in disarray.
Crystal-ball gazers were also at a loss for words to explain the phenomenon.
Did Friday’s Game Four also end in a one-sided manner—as in four successive massacres happening?
Whatever, today’s Game Five could still be pregnant with uncanny possibilities.
If San Miguel Beer prevailed for the third straight time on Friday, the Beermen will be carrying a massive 3-1 lead going to today’s Game 5, Sunday.
That means the Beermen need only to win today to clinch the crown to move them one title away from the much-coveted Grand Slam.
But will coach Tim Cone just let San Miguel Beer stash away the plum without putting up a fight?
While the Beermen are almost as dynastic and as unbeatable due to their consistent collection of titles this decade, it cannot be denied that Cone has an imposing advantage in championships won.
Already, Cone has amassed 20 titles to become the winningest PBA coach in history.
Thus, many will not be surprised if he ends up claiming his 21st crown.
But coach Leo Austria is also on a sterling mission.
A victory will give the Sariaya, Quezon-born coach his seventh straight PBA crown.
In this age when competition has become that tough and keen, six crowns won in six Finals appearances for Austria is one feat that’s hardest to surpass, even equal.
No wonder Austria has authored those twin routs successively in Games Two & Three.
Thus, if Austria’s gunning today for his seventh straight title, I will not be surprised.
But is he?
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