Four months after their title clash last conference, Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee meet in another playoff showdown with all the trimmings of a classic duel.
The Mixers and the Elasto Painters, the second and third best teams in the elimination round, start their semis confrontation at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine seeks a repeat its conquest of San Mig Coffee (then called B-Meg) last conference, ending its six-year wait for a breakthrough championship in the pro league.
San Mig Coffee, meanwhile, is out for vengeance, redemption and more respect, being a champion team itself that last hoisted a PBA trophy just at the end of the last Commissioner’s Cup.
Thus, it’s a battle of champs that both sides expect to be a tough grind.
“It’s a battle that may come down to a deciding Game Seven,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“It should be a great series,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.
Rain or Shine narrowly escaped with an 80-79 win in their first meeting in the elims last Oct. 24 then San Mig evened up also with a hairline of a win, 93-92, on Dec. 2.
Making their semis duel showdown more exciting is both teams playing with a complete, healthy lineup. They have great individual matchups at the backcourt and up front.
“As opposed to our championship series last conference, we feel we match up better this time around,” said Cone.
“Paul Lee’s and Chris Tiu’s additions have certainly made RoS a deeper, tougher team, but having Joe (Devance), JC (Intal) and Wes (Gonzales) available for us this time around helps even things out,” Cone added.
It’s the combo of James Yap, PJ Simon and Mark Barroca versus Lee, Tiu, Ryan Arana, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood at the backcourt and the gang of Devance, Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis and Yancy de Ocampo against Beau Belga, JR Quinahan, Jervy Cruz, Larry Rodriguez and Ronnie Matias at the frontcourt.
Yap, the biggest ace on Cone’s sleeves, could be up for a tougher grind if RoS defensive specialist Jireh Ibanes is able to come back from injury. (SB)