It’s no secret that the San Miguel Beermen have the Alaska Aces’ number, most especially during playoffs.
No one will ever forget that ‘Beeracle’ run San Miguel made back in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, when they came back from a 0-3 series deficit to capture their 22nd championship in the most astounding way possible.
Two years after that, the Beermen and the Aces are set to rekindle their rivalry, as they will face each other in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
Both teams had their own ways of entering the semis. Alaska had the easier route by maximizing their win-once incentive against the Magnolia Hotshots, while SMB had to sweep the TNT Katropa in a best-of-three series.
The Beermen, the defending Commissioner’s Cup champs, are seen as the favorites to defeat the second-seeded Aces. However, main man June Mar Fajardo doesn’t want that to think that way.
“Ibang conference ngayon and, basta, tapos na yung mga dati. For sure gusto nila manalo and gusto bumawi,” said the reigning, four-time league MVP on Wednesday night after their 106-102 win over TNT. “Kami gusto naming manalo.
“Kailangan namin paghandaan kasi ganda ng nilalaro ng Alaska ngayon.”
The Beermen have to prepare plenty for the Aces. In this mid-season joust, Alaska have the conference’s best winning streak at seven games – the streak that propelled them to the upper echelon of the standings.
But more than the team itself, San Miguel also have to brace for Vic Manuel.
The Muscle Man has been on a tear this conference, so much so that he has emerged as the frontrunner of the Best Player of the Conference award. Moreover, his streak of scoring at least 20 points has now reached 11 games.
Manuel was also the one who dealt the Beermen one of their early losses in the conference. Back in May 19, he nailed the game-winning runner to lift the Aces over SMB, 105-103, and to spoil the debut of Renaldo Balkman.
“Sobrang ganda ng nilalaro niya ngayong conference, grabe 20-plus a game. Sobrang ganda ng nilalaro niya,” said Fajardo. “Kailangan markahan namin siya and meron naman sigurong tao na designated sa kanya.
“Kailangan lang namin magtulungan as a team.”