Series Recap: Tied 3-3
Game 1: January 7, 2015: Alaska def. San Miguel, 88-82
Game 2: January 9, 2015: San Miguel def. Alaska, 100-86
Game 3: January 11, 2015: Alaska def. San Miguel, 78-70
Game 4: January 14, 2015: San Miguel def. Alaska, 88-70
Game 5: January 16, 2015: San Miguel def. Alaska, 93-88
Game 6: January 18, 2015: Alaska def. San Miguel, 87-76
One last Ace up the sleeve? Or a 20th title for the Beermen? A new team will be crowned champions as the 2014-2015 PBA Philippine Cup culminates in Game 7. After throwing vicious haymakers, slicing open wounds, and rallying improbable comeback efforts, the Alaska Aces and the San Miguel Beermen collide one last time for ultimate glory in a bloodbath not for the faint of heart. The two teams face each other in the deciding Game 7 on January 21 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska and San Miguel have faced each other in Game 7 of the Finals twice: the 1995 Governors’ Cup and the 1998 All-Filipino Cup. The Aces, then known as the Milkmen, won in both showdowns.
The case for Alaska:
Allow San Miguel to fall in love with the outside shot. In Alaska’s three victories, they let San Miguel settle on a whopping average of 33 three-point attempts, converting at a 27.2% clip. That excessive amount nullifies the presence of June Mar Fajardo inside since long shot attempts usually mean that misses ricochet into the perimeter, putting Alaska’s gang rebounding at a premium.
Exploit the secondary fastbreak. Alaska normally finishes transition baskets when Calvin Abueva barrels to the hoop, but they are just as effective when Dondon Hontiveros and JVee Casio run up court and set themselves up as trailers on the elbows and corners if the Beermen’s defense recovers quickly enough to flummox the Beast.
The case for San Miguel:
Crash the boards. San Miguel has a +8.7 margin in the rebounding department in their three victories and -3.3 in their three losses. Fajardo will get his, but the Beermen need all the help they can get from Arwind Santos, Doug Kramer, and David Semerad, who have been working double time to box out Alaska’s litany of slotmen. San Miguel’s towers will have to muster the energy to prevent Alaska from scrambling for second chance points, as the Beermen allowed the Aces to grab 23 and 22 offensive rebounds in Games 5 and 6, respectively.
Set the tone on the halfcourt offense. Coach Leo Austria is a brilliant tactician who understands what it takes to win a slow down, grind-it-out affair. He has the pieces that can dump the ball in the shaded area, draw fouls, and get to the free throw line. Santos remains a solid pick-and-pop option who can work in tandem with Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot for open jumpers to stifle Alaska’s trapping defense.