The Finals of the the final conference this season feature two teams that are complete opposites of each other. Two squads that have been on polar ends of the storylines will duke it. The Petron Blaze Boosters and the San Mig Coffee Mixers are on a collision course where only one squad will survive.
Petron has been the turbulent one. It wasn’t easy getting to this point. It wasn’t pretty, either. But, we are “this” close to forgetting all of that. The Blaze Boosters are four wins away from capping off the most erratic season in their franchise’s history.
For the San Mig Coffee Mixers, this will be their third Finals appearance in five conferences, and second straight Governor’s Cup title appearance. They have been here before. They know what it takes to win a championship. All they need to do again.
Depth of Line-Up vs. Depth of Chemistry
It has been said many times before, but I will say it again. The Petron Blaze Boosters are the arguably the best team on paper. The have so many players on their bench that could start and even be stars on other teams in the league. With the likes of Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, and Doug Kramer leading the charge off of the bench, this is dangerous in the Finals.
For SMC, this is not their first rodeo. Like I said earlier, they have been here before. The scary thing is that they have been here before TOGETHER. The only addition that will be playing with the team, compared to the last Governor’s Cup, is Alex Mallari. Other than that, they know each other like the back of their hands.
Advantage: San Mig Coffee
I have to go with the Mixers here. But not by very much. They are going to need that chemistry working for them at the highest of levels. If they are not on the same page for the entire series, things will get really nasty for them.
X-Factors vs. Cap’n Crunch
Alex Mallari, Mark Barroca, and PJ Simon. Those are the major X-Factors that we have been seeing for San Mig Coffee during the quarters and the semis. When they start clicking, even if it is just two of the three, this team seems unstoppable at times.
On the other hand, Alex Cabagnot has been having a great playoffs. He has been on point with his team for the post-eliminations so much that we are starting to forget his long hair. Alex’s deadly outside shooting, great ball movement, and complete control of the pace of a game were just too much for Elasto Painters.
I think that Cabagnot is just going to be too much to handle. He will be controlling the game from tip-off to end buzzer. He is that type of player. He lives for these types of moments. And after all of the heartaches that his team has been going through for so long, I don’t think he will let this chance slip through his hands.
Left side of a Swiss Army Knife vs. Right side of a Swiss Army Knife
This is probably the only area of these two teams that are somewhat similar. The imports for the Blaze Boosters and the Mixers are do-it-alls on the court. Though one is better on the offensive end, and the other is better on the defensive side of the ball.
SMC will have to get more offense out of the defensive behemoth known as Marqus Blakely if they cant get consistent numbers from James Yap. He needs to make them free throws. HE HAS TO. It is not a joke anymore. There are so many potential points that should go the Mixers’ way if he can just drain them charities. And in a Finals, you have to take advantage of every chance you can get.
For Elijah Millsap, he will have Marc Pingris or Joe Devance on him for pretty much the entire series. And that is coming off of a series where Gabe Norwood was hounding him. There are stretches that his shot abandons him, but when he is on, he is on. Given that he scores his usual 30+ a game, he is needed to defend as well. Playing the passing lanes is one thing, locking down someone like Joe Devance is another.
Elijah Millsap is a beast when he has the ball in his hands. It is going to be tough for him at times with how much of a defensive team San Mig Coffee is, but he will eventually get things going for himself. And with the presence of the rest of his teammates, it just makes it that much easier for him out there on the court.
Petron in 7.
Our very own Robi Raya predicted that this series was going to be an easy one for Petron. I think that, though the Blaze Boosters will also come out on top, it is not going to be anywhere near easy for them. San Mig Coffee is a great team with experience under their belt. But, that hunger for change in stigma and proving what they are worth will push Petron to clinching their first title in a couple years.
Photos by Pranz Kaeno Billones of InterAKTV