San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra clash in a veritable duel of titans and both brace for a cutthroat battle in their PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-seven title showdown set to begin Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
On one side is the SMB team which has been six-of-six in the finals in the last 10 conferences and on course for a possible grand slam, and on the other side is the Ginebra team which is the reigning back-to-back Governors Cup champ.
The Beermen and the Kings are the league's best two teams at least in the last four years, and they could really figure in a fight for the ages.
Theirs is a championship duel rich in subplots and replete in side battles.
"It's San Miguel versus Ginebra, As usual matinding laban yan. I won't be surprised if it goes down to a Game Seven. It's a great finals for sure," said San Miguel Beer governor Robert Non during the pre-finals press conference at Sambokijin Restaurant in Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City.
"Dalawang SMC teams yan pero parehong palaban yan. Ang hinihingi namin sa kanila ibigay ang lahat for the fans," said Alfrancis Chua, sports director of San Miguel Corp. and governor of the Ginebra ball club.
Both overcame a scrambling start in the midseason tourney to arrange a rematch of their 2016-17 PBA Philippine Cup title duel.
The Beermen beat the Kings in five games in the best-of-seven series, but Ginebra was then without 7-foot-1 giant Greg Slaughter.
The Kings are now in full force and reinforced by two-time champion Justin Brownlee as they challenge the Beermen's reign.
Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo are facing in each other for the first time in the pros, rekindling their rivalry in their college days in Cebu.
Brownlee, meanwhile, is pitted against Renaldo Balkman in a curious duel between two players who fought side by side in their title run with Alab Pilipinas in the ABL.
There's Christian Standhardinger who's chasing a PBA crown right in his first PBA tournament. There's also Mark Caguioa who's looking for a golden run while also in chase of the 10,000-point milestone.
"Two great teams. Great matchup. Two best imports. Greg and June Mar finally meeting in PBA finals. This is really a very exciting series," said SMB team manager Gie Abanilla.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone concedes San Miguel is the superior team but he's hopeful they would give them a good fight.
"It's a real honor to be playing San Miguel Beer in the finals. It's such a great challenge. You can't pick a bigger challenge. I hope our guys embrace it and go for it," said Cone.(SB)