CURTAINS UP ON PBA COMMISH CUP SUSPENSE THEATER
Manila, Aug. 12, 2001 - (STAR By Nelson Beltran) After cooling their heels for three days, San Miguel Beer and Red Bull finally plunge back into action tonight, starting their showdown for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown at the Araneta Coliseum.
Some like to call it the duel of the league’s present and future, the young upstart against the old master, youth versus experience, brute force against finesse and many more.
Whatever, the Beermen and the Thunder are expected to give each other a tough challenge in their best-of-seven playoff which promises to become a thriller of a series.
Game One alone may well turn out to be a Sunday suspense theater with both teams likely to come out well-prepared for the battle after a three-day break that allowed them to deeply decipher each other on video tapes.
The series opener is set at 6:30 p.m. succeeding the 4:15 p.m. one-game playoff for third place between Alaska Milk and Purefoods.
Though the series pits the reigning league ruler against a young team still in search of a breakthrough win, odds are just about equal with coaches of both teams themselves mum on which has the edge in the duel.
But San Miguel’s Jong Uichico and Red Bull’s Yeng Guiao stressed they like their winning chances, and each is confident his team will go all-out to have the job done.
"They said they’re out to spoil our party. I hope that challenges my players to play hard to prove we’re a true champion team," said Uichico.
"We’re up for a big battle. Ang lakas ng kalaban but I definitely like our chances. Tingin ko hindi kami mapapahiya dahil kung baga sa manok ang team ko Texas at kung baga sa kabayo mola," said Guiao.
The two teams have faced each other only once in the mid-season tournament with the Beermen narrowly beating the Thunder, 87-83. Nate Johnson and Tony Lang figured in a fierce shootout then with the former firing 41 and the latter 40.
Since Red Bull joined the PBA bandwagon last year, the Photokina ballclub has played San Miguel 13 times, winning only five. The Thunder yielded eight games but only on an average losing margin of 5.8 points.
Uichico admits they’re having a hard time against Red Bull with their duels often decided only by a few plays at endgame.
"In the past, we’re beating them only on about one to three plays in the closing minutes. My worry is that Tony Lang may turn those final plays in favor of Red Bull," said Uichico, who like Guiao, expects the Red Bull import to become a key factor in the series.
Stats also suggest the series to be a close fight.
At the close of the eliminations, both teams averaged 92.8 points. San Miguel also normed 47.9 rebounds, 18 assists, 4.8 steals, 3.7 blocks against 18.4 turnovers while Red Bull 45.2 rebounds, 20.1 assists, 5.0 steals, 4.7 blocks against 17.6 turnovers.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2001 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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