With San Miguel besting Rain or Shine in last Friday’s Philippine Cup semis showdown, the stage is now set for a showdown between the Beermen and Alaska Aces – the latest chapter in the teams’ 31-year-strong rivalry.
In the case of the teams about to go head-to-head tomorrow, the attraction isn’t hard to see, as they make up two of the most-winning franchises in PBA history, with the added distinctions of both being grand slam winners. To date, both times have an even four titles from the eight previous times they’ve met in a Finals series.
Of course, the legacy of competition hasn’t gone unnoticed. Speaking with media in 2015, Aces Head Coach Alex Compton said, “It’s an honor to be a part of it. I believe in honoring where you from, people before you, it’s an absolute honor to be a part of it.”
The origins can be found in the 1987 season, when the Beermen beating the then-Hills Bros. Coffee Kings in five games. From there, the rivalry between franchises would only grow, between the franchises would grow, reaching epic proportions in the 90s as the Aces secured the 1995 Governor’s cup title in a now-legendary 7-game series.
Currently, this year’s Philippine Cup has all the hallmarks of a potential classic, with the Aces aiming for redemption in drive for a 15th championship (rendered even more personal following their fall to the Beermen in last year’s Governor’s Cup), and the San Miguel squad now being forced to recalibrate in light of league MVP June Mar Fajardo damaging his knee in last night’s semis.
Whatever happens from here on in is anybody’s guess, but regardless of which side triumphs, the real winners will be the same ones they’ve always been: the fans.