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A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME

When the two teams left standing in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup – Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee – faced off a day before Game 1 of their best-of-seven Finals at the PBA Finals press conference in Eastwood City, Mixers coach Tim Cone said their rivals have their number.

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“We have a lot of respect for Rain or Shine. The first time we met in the Finals, we’re also trying to get back-to-back championships (in 2012). They’re a big hurdle for us because they play hard all the time,” Cone said.

Coming off of a Commissioner’s Cup conquest, the Super Coffee Mixers were denied two consecutive titles by Rain or Shine in the 2012 Governors’ Cup, where the series went over the distance. It was also the E-Painters’ first championship in the PBA.

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“We’re excited about the chance as an organization to play in back-to-back Finals,” Cone said. “The Philippine Cup is most important. It’s the crown jewel and if you win, you’re the best team in country. That’s our motivation.”

“If you win with imports, you’re the best team with the best import. But in the Philippine Cup, you’re the best team. That’s our goal – to be best team out there.”

But on the other side of the court, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao believes that whatever happened in the past is already irrelevant.

“It’s a whole new story. They’ve gotten better,” Guiao said. “It’s a whole new team. They’re very different now than when they started the conference.”

He added, “They got here because they’re playing the best basketball in the last seven or eight games. They didn’t start well, but that’s a tribute to their resiliency. That’s a test of their character, and that’s something we have to play against.”

“The biggest mistake we can make is to think that we still have their number, because that’s what we don’t have.”

Guiao, gunning for his first Philippine Cup title, would rather not dwell on the pressure, saying, “I don’t really think of the pressure too much. The more we think, the more we get pressured, so we’re just looking at it day-to-day. We’re just focusing on our preparation, on how we’ll play San Mig.”

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“I don’t want to put more pressure on myself. I’m not chasing any personal record. We’re just trying to be the best that we can be.” (RL)

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