Manila, Philippines – Above the din of Alaska’s series-clinching victory over Rain or Shine in Game 6 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Sunday night, Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, the Aces team owner, remembered the nightmarish loss six months earlier.
“It came down to a slip by Jvee [Casio] on a wet court,” said Uytengsu in between handshakes and pats on the back from friends and fans at ringside of the Mall of Asia Arena.
“It was probably a won game at that point and I think everyone acknowledges that. But things just unfolded.”
Game 4 of last season’s Governors’ Cup best-of-5 semis against Rain or Shine was tied in overtime with less than a minute remaining when Casio stole the ball and broke for home with the game-winning shot.
But a wet spot on the floor that was left unattended changed everything as Casio slipped as he took off and twisted his knee, the ball pried loose from his hands and out of bounds.
Beau Belga then won it with a putback at the other end, forcing a deciding Game 5 which the Elasto Painters eventually won to advance to the championship.
“That was agonizing,” Uytengsu said. “And this game is no different in the sense that we fought really hard against a tough and gritty team as well.”
Was the loss a ghost he felt they had to slay?
“We had to,” he said. “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Rain or Shine has been to the Finals so many times lately while San Miguel [Beer] has the most championships of any PBA team in history. Yeah, you have to go one at a time. I’m just glad we did in six and not in seven.”
How satisfying is it to win the series, especially against a team that denied them before?
“Oh, it’s just so sweet to be back in the finals. We’re happy but we’re not satisfied,” Uytengsu said. “And we won’t be satisfied unless we win the championship.”
Game 1 of the best-of-7 championship is at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with San Miguel (19 titles) and Alaska (14) facing off for the first time since the 2010 Fiesta Conference where then coach Tim Cone beat Siot Tanquingcen and the Beermen in six games.
It has been 17 years, however, since the two ballclubs met in a Philippine Cup Finals, with Cone and Alaska beating Ron Jacobs and San Miguel in Game 7 in 1998.