[caption id="attachment_24970" align="alignright" width="300"] Petron coach Gee Abanilla (left) and SanMig Coffee mentor Tim Coach shake hands during a press conference prior to Game 1 of their best-of-seven title series in the PBA Governors’ Cup set tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena. Also shown is PBA commissioner Chito Salud (center) and some players, led by Petron’s Arwind Santos. (Tony Pionilla)[/caption]
Game Friday (Mall of Asia Arena)
8 p.m. – San Mig Coffee vs Petron Blaze
Forget about family ties.
That will be the battle cry of Petron Blaze and San Mig Coffee, sister teams under the San Miguel banner, as they begin their best-of-seven title showdown in the PBA Governors’ Cup starting Friday Ocotber 11,2013 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It’s a game no one has a distinct advantage although Petron is expected to bank heavily on its depth and firepower while San Mig will try to translate its use its vast experience.
Coaching-wise, San Mig’s Tim Cone had the edge, having been in the PBA for more than two decades while Petron’s Gee Abanilla is in his rookie year as head coach.
Cone has 14 PBA titles, Abanilla none. Cone is in the Finals for the 24th time, Abanilla in his first.
Abanilla, however, will be no pushover. Evidence is the fact that on his first try, he guided the Blazers to the finals. And if he wins, that would not be a surprise either. He will be the eighth coach to win in his first try.
Abanilla said he not really thinking about it – being a rookie coach playing in the Finals.
“Our goal at start of the Governors’ Cup is just to improve, which we did after our poor showing in the first two conferences,” said Abanilla in the PLDT Tel Pad Governors’ Cup Finals press briefing yesterday.
“We’re happy that we’re in the finals. It will be a tremendous boost on our confidence. This is part of a long process, we’re just lucky to be in the finals,” added Abanilla.
As for San Mig Coffee, coach Tim Cone said their focus is just on Game 1.
“We know that it will be a tough series, it will be an exciting series. We respect each other but we ain’t friendly (with each other),” said Cone, referring to the teams being in one company San Mig Corporation (SMC). “Our focus now is to win Game 1… then we’ll go from there.”
Air21 coach Franz Pumaren thinks Millsap fits the system of Petron Blaze.
“Petron has the perfect import for their team and the locals are responding well,” said Pumaren. “The locals accepted their respective role that is why they have the edge. San Mig is in the finals because of their defense.”
“They need to slow down Petron, which has the deeper bench. So for me coaching will be the big difference and experience in this series,” added Pumaren.
Leading Petron Blaze is import Elijah Millsap, who averaged 27.75 points and 12 rebounds in the semifinals series against Rain or Shine, while 6-foot-10 rookie center June Fajardo has double-double 14.75 points and 12.5 rebounds.
Other players expected to step up for the Boosters are Alex Cabagnot (15.5 points), Marcio Lassiter (13.75 points) and Arwind Santos (9.25 points and 9 rebounds), as well as Chris Lutz, Doug Kramer and Chico Lanete.