TOO CLOSE TO CALL

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TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Post by Ginebra Tambayan on Tue May 14, 2013 9:48 pm


THE Barangay Ginebra-Alaska title duel for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship should either be a quick kill or an excruciating drawn-out affair.

That was the assessment of the competing coaches, maintaining the games could go either way, especially in the opener of the Cebuana Lhuillier-sponsored best-of-five series Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Magkakasukatan na ng husto sa Game 1 pa lang. Ibang usapan na ito,” said Kings veteran forward Kerby Raymundo.

For sure, it should be a down-the-wire series with no team admitting to holding any decisive edge over the other and the teams’ chief tacticians rather preferring to express wariness on the other’s capabilities.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo in Tuesday’s pre-finals press conference at the Sambokojin Restaurant inside Eastwood City, QC.

“Maganda ito,” countered Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua.

Alaska is gunning for its 14th title while Ginebra is eyeing a ninth, but the subplots do not stop there.

Former Aces LA Tenorio and Mac Baracael and ex-King Cyrus Baguio are now ranged against their former teams while Chua is eyeing a first title in only his first conference with Ginebra and Trillo in just his third.

“These two are vying for their first title in the last eight conferences. Both are young, dynamic coaches, vying for their first title,” was how PBA Commissioner Chito Salud summed it up.

“The story lines are thick and self-evident, the drama is dripping from the get-go. These two teams have rich and deep winning traditions and we expect them to give our fans a special treat.”

The teams have met thrice before in the Finals, the last in the 1997 Commissioner’s Cup when Ginebra was still known as Gordon’s Gin and under Robert Jaworski, Sr. and Alaska handled by Tim Cone.

Since then, the teams have not had a real history of animosity towards each other. But this time should be different considering the stakes.

Alaska actually beat Ginebra twice in as many meetings in the mid-season tourney’s eliminations, but that does not matter now.

Indeed, the coaches expect nothing less than an all-out war in the series, no matter how long it goes.

“This is a different Ginebra team, but the physicality will always be there,” noted Chua.

“Ang championship kasi, iba nang level. Pati preparations mo kailangan mas matindi. Kaya tingin ko it will boil down kung sino mas may gusto. Lahat may issues, everyone wants to prove something.”

“The concentration to overcome the physicality is vital,” said Trillo. “This is where you really test each other. You want to take away their strengths and quickly. Remember, this is a difficult series, with no real room for mistakes. It’s not a best-of-seven, it’s just a best-of-five.”

There’s another reason why Alaska should want a short Finals. Mark Caguioa is expected to see action again and may regain his old fiery form as the series progresses.

Yet the Kings are already one lethal bunch even without their reigning MVP, with Vernon Macklin, Tenorio, Baracael and the rejuvenated pair of Raymundo and Jayjay Helterbrand foremost among those who have picked up the cudgels.

As a result, Ginebra managed to make the playoffs despite a 0-4 start, overcame a twice-to-win handicap against Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals and a 1-2 deficit over vaunted Talk N Text in their race-to-three semifinals pairing.

Alaska is no patsy either, what with Baguio, Jayvee Casio, Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva and do-it-all import Rob Dozier leading the way.

Totally embracing the system Trillo has laid out, the Aces emerged as the eliminations topnotcher, disposed of Air21 in just one game in the quarterfinals and needed just four games in dethroning last year’s champion San Mig Coffee in the semis.

Those are by no means any barometer this time, however, neither are the teams’ X’s and O’s, which the other is completely familiar with.

At the end of the day, however, Trillo best expressed who the Fates should favor by saying: “We’ve got to continue to believe in what we’re doing.” (NC)


SOURCE: PBAinquirer

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