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PBA: Grand Slam beckons for San Mig Coffee


But Rain or Shine stands in the way
by Waylon Galvez

Manila, Philippines – San Mig Super Coffee takes its first crack at the Grand Slam when it shoots for victory against Rain or Shine in Game 4 tonight of the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Gametime is at 8 p.m.

The Mixers will try to become only the fourth franchise in the 39-year history of the PBA to complete a Grand Slam, and first since Alaska in 1996.

Calling the shots for San Mig is the same man who coached Alaska to that successful campaign, Tim Cone, who owns the PBA record of 17 coaching titles.

But the 55-year-old mentor isn’t giving too much thought about a second Grand Slam for him.

“You can’t talk about it till it’s done,” said Cone after his team’s 78-69 triumph in Game 3 Saturday night that pushed the Mixers back on top of the best-of-five series with a two games to one lead.

“We can’t afford to do that, think that it will be over come Game 4 and win that Grand Slam. We have too much respect for this Rain or Shine team. This is mentally the strongest team, they don’t break easily,” added Cone.

In the history of the PBA, only three teams, one of them twice, have won the Grand Slam.

Crispa did the trick first back in 1976 under coach Baby Dalupan, and then duplicated the feat in 1983 with Tommy Manotoc.

In 1989, Norman Black steered San Miguel Beer to its own Grand Slam before Alaska’s turn came in 1996.

San Mig Coffee actually has already won three straight championships, capturing this same conference last season before winning the season-opening Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup.

“We just have to compete with them for every possession, earn everything,” said Cone, whose team turned a one-point deficit in Game 3 (59-58) early in the fourth period to a 70-61 advantage with a decisive 12-2 run behind the strong efforts of rookie Ian Sangalang.

Facing a 1-2 deficit in a five-game affair isn’t new to the Painters, who were in a similar situation in the semifinals against Alaska but were able to win Games 4 and 5 to advance to the finals.

“Yes we are down 1-2 in the series, but I don’t think its over,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “I don’t think it will end on Monday (today). This is the way we got to the finals, this is not new to us.”

However, the Painters need to involve the locals if they want to keep their bid of winning the franchise’s second championship in three years, or since bagging the 2012 Governors’ Cup at the expense of San Mig Super Coffee (formerly Bmeg Derby Ace Llamados).

In Game 3, Best Import winner AZ Reid scored 31 points, but he got little support from the Rain or Shine locals as Beau Belga was the second player with most points (8), followed by Jervy Cruz Ryan Arana with six apiece.

Rain or Shine guard Paul Lee and wingman Jeff Chan were held to a combined six points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field, including 0-of-7 from three-point territory with six turnovers.