There is hunger for another title for San Miguel Beer.
The Beermen last won a championship three years ago, beating Magnolia, 4-3, in their best-of-seven finals series in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup.
Last year, TNT ousted SMB in the run off to the finals as it took the deciding Game 7, 97-79, in the semifinals to advance to the championship round against Magnolia.
For Beermen coach Leo Austria, it will be a difficult time for them in their quest for a sixth championship.
“Pipilitin namin. Pero napakahirap,” said Austria on Friday during a presentation at the Novotel in Quezon City.
The Beermen will have new core of players playing a supporting role to veteran big man JuneMar Fajardo.
And this group will have Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, CJ Perez, Moala Tautuaa, Vic Manuel, Jericho Cruz, Rodney Brondial and Simon Enciso in the mix.
Austria said his core of players is learning how to be a more cohesive force under a championship setting.
“Our first game in the eliminations is already in the past. This is already the finals. You can never know what will happen,” said Austria.
The Beermen have won five straight Philippine Cup crowns starting in 2014, twice against Alaska and Magnolia and once against Ginebra.
Facing the Tropang Giga with a finals atmosphere will be a new experience for the Beermen.
For TNT, the feeling is mutual.
“I think the result of the (semifinals series between San Miguel and Meralco) shows the strength of San Miguel. How powerful they are and how deep and talented they are and how well-coached this team is,” said TNT mentor Chot Reyes, whose wards will face the Beermen for all the marbles starting on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The two franchises have also clashed in the all-Filipino of the 2010-11 season, with the MVP Group of Manny Pangilinan winning over the SMC team in six games.
The Beermen and the Tropang Giga also battled in the semifinals of Season 46, with TNT frustrating SMB, 97-79, to advance to a championship duel with Magnolia.