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5 years since last Finals clash, different San Miguel, Magnolia cross paths

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
08:14 PM March 21, 2018

The last time San Miguel Beer and Purefoods, two of the PBA’s winningest franchises, met in the finals was back in the 2013 Governors’ Cup when San Mig Coffee outlasted Petron in Game 7.

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Interestingly, that was also the last time the Beermen lost in a championship series.

Five years later, San Miguel and Purefoods find themselves fighting for the championship anew, this time for the Philippine Cup title beginning on Friday night.

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“I think [this series] will last until six to seven games because as you can see, we finished with the same record after the eliminations at 8-3 and we also have a hard time dealing with them,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria, who is 5-0 in the finals.

“For them (Magnolia) to be in the finals, they’re a strong contender and they’ve always been in the semifinals last season and what I fear the most is that they’re a very hungry team.“

San Miguel Beermen vs Magnolia Hotshots. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

A lot has changed since the two teams met in the finals.

SMB center June Mar Fajardo was just a rookie then, but he’s now reigning four-time MVP. The Beermen have been unbeatable in the finals, winning five championships, including the last three editions of the Philippine Cup.

Magnolia won a Grand Slam and four consecutive crowns overall but Friday’s Game 1 will only be the Hotshots’ first finals appearance since 2014.

Still, the differences between then and now won’t change the fact that the two sister teams are also fierce rivals.

“We’re not going to give them the championship on a silver platter. We’re not just here for the experience. We’re here to win the championship,” said Magnolia team governor Rene Pardo on Wednesday during the pre-finals press conference.

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“We’re very thankful to make it this far. We’re facing a big challenge but we’ve managed to get here in the finals and we will really try our best to win the championship,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, who is a first-timer in the finals.

San Miguel Beer, which disposed of Barangay Ginebra in the semifinals, needing only five games, is looking to cement itself as one of the best teams in history with a fourth straight all-Filipino title.

“This is not dynasty or destiny, what we want is to make winning the all-filipino cup as a tradition,” said Austria, who flaunts the league’s best offensive team.

Magnolia, on the other hand, hopes to regain its glory and end a four-year title drought.

“We need an almost perfect game to beat the defending champions because they have a lot of championship experience,” said Victolero, whose team has the league’s top defense.

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