MANILA, Philippines — PBA coaches are predicting a tightly contested series when the Magnolia Hotshots and the Alaska Aces face off in the best-of-7 finals of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup starting next week.
"It's a toss-up," said national team coach Yeng Guiao. "The two teams are almost even. Sa tingin ko, walang nakakalamang."
Guiao and most other PBA coaches foresee a grind-out battle in each game, and a long series that might go the distance.
"I will not be surprised if all the games go down to the wire, and I expect a Game 7 that will make the PBA fans very happy," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
"Strength and weaknesses, almost even," said Phoenix coach Louie Alas. "Kung sino ang less turnovers at mas marami ang offensive rebounds, siya ang mananalo."
The Hotshots and the Aces begin their series on December 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Guiao feels that Magnolia has the slight edge over Alaska in terms of their front court, as the Hotshots feature Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis, Rodney Brondial, Aldrech Ramos and Kyle Pascual. However, the Aces have the advantage in their backcourt, because of the defensive pressure put up by Chris Banchero, Jvee Casio, Ping Exciminiano and Simon Enciso.
"Sa tingin ko, tabla lang sa import," Guiao also said. "Mataas ang average ni Mike Harris, pero tingin ko, kaya ni Romeo Travis umiskor kung gugustuhin. He just defers to his teammates. He's more effective in sharing the ball with his teammates."
Austria, for his part, believes Magnolia has the advantage in manpower but Alaska can compensate because of its tried-and-tested system.
"We all know Alaska's system," said Austria, whose Beermen have had memorable battles with the Aces in the past. "They just keep on improving every conference with it."
However, Austria warned that Magnolia is dangerous because of its core group featuring several unpredictable scorers.
"Sa Alaska, medyo predictable kung sino ang pupuntos. Sa Magnolia, maraming pwedeng pumutok like Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Ian Sangalang and even PJ Simon," he explained.
The Hotshots are also a fearsome defensive team, he said. "Na-stop nga nila si Justin Brownlee (in the Manila Clasico)," said Austria. "So I think they can also find a way to stop Mike Harris."
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