by Waylon Galvez
San Miguel Beer ‘main man’ June Mar Fajardo thinks that their experience as a team winning numerous championships together will no longer be a factor come Game 7 against the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok for the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
According to Fajardo, both teams have equal opportunity when it comes to a seventh game.
“Wala ng may advantage, natalo na nila kami. Patas lang ang game, walang may advantage (No team has an advantage, they’ve beaten us. It’s all equal in Game 7),” said Fajardo.
SMB came through with a 98-86 win in Game 6 last Sunday at the Big Dome that leveled the best-of-seven Finals series at 3-3 – the third time that the team tied the title showdown since it also triumphed in Game 2 (108-101) last May 3 and Game 4 (114-98) last May 8.
Magnolia won Games 1 (99-84), 3 (86-82) and 5 (88-86) on a game-winning shot courtesy of Mark Barroca.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo said that the SMB ‘core five’ of him, Arwind Santos, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter have won a total six titles together since their first Philippine Cup championship in 2015 against Alaska.
They also bagged the Philippine Cup crown in 2016 with a spectacular comeback from dubbed the ‘Beeracle’ when they erased Alaska’s 3-0 lead with four straight wins for their second straight all-Filipino title.
San Miguel captured the Philippine Cup in dominating fashion the previous two seasons, scoring similar 4-1 wins in a seven-game series against Ginebra in 2017 and Magnolia in 2018.
Now in a rematch with Magnolia, the series has reached a seventh game, and Fajardo said there is no guarantee – even as experts predict their experience will be the main factor.
“Ang mananalo jan is kung sino yung bibigay ang best and kung sino mag-start strong (The tam that will win is the team that will give its best and the team that will start strong),” said Fajardo.
“Hindi ko na masasabing experience namin, kasi Magnolia labas na din yung experience nila e. Cancel out na yung experience (I can’t say that it’s going to be our experience because Magnolia also has the experience. I think experience will cancel out),” he added.
As for Santos, he is clinging to that experience factor but only when things get difficult down the stretch, but they can’t afford to feel or think going to the game that they have the experience and it’s going to be easy playing Magnolia in do-or-die Game 7.
“Nandun yung konting excitement, kasi alam naman namin na kaya namin… pero ang gumu-gulo sa aking isipan, kaya kaming talunin ng Magnolia (We’re excited, we know we can win, but it also bothers me knowing Magnolia can also beat us,” said Santos.