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Monday, March 4, 2024

SMBeermen favored but Hotshots unfazed

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IT is on.

Top seeds San Miguel Beer and Magnolia are ready to jump on each other right out of the box as they open their best-of-seven championship series in the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup.

The top-seeded Beermen and the No. 2-ranked Hotshots start their war towards the jewel with Game 1 scheduled today at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with both teams seeking to draw first blood.

Coming in, San Miguel Beer is once again the heavy favorite for good reasons.

Three-peat defending champion San Miguel Beer is looking at rewriting history as it guns for a historic fourth straight crown in the All-Filipino conference.

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The Beermen know what’s at stake and how prestigious of an accomplishment it can be if they continue their reign of supremacy.

“We’re going for our fourth straight All-Filipino championship and the team knows how big of an achievement it can be for us,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “It will be history for us if ever.”

“Siyempre finals na, so parehong gusto manalo ng championship. Para samin, ‘yung history na fourth All-Filipino talagang gusto namin makuha,” said four-time reigning Most Valuable Player and leading candidate for Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo.

On the other hand, Magnolia is looking forward to the challenge of possibly dethroning San Miguel Beer.

“It’s given that we’re the underdogs, but we’re embracing the opportunity and the chance to win a championship,” said Star coach Chito Victolero.

“Masarap kalaban ang champion, lalo ‘yung three-time na,” said Magnolia spitfire Mark Barroca.

San Miguel Beer had a relatively easier road to the finals, having dispatched Barangay Ginebra, 4-1, in the semifinals.

The Beermen had a longer rest, allowing Fajardo and star guards Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross refresh and recuperate from minor injuries.

On the other hand, Magnolia took a longer route as it took six games for it to dispatch NLEX, 4-2, in the previous round.

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