AND now there are only eight.
The coronavirus-interrupted 2020 PBA Philippine Cup enters another interesting phase with the quarterfinals at the NBA-inspired bubble environment at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports Center in Pampanga.
Eight of the 12 teams which entered the first-ever PBA bubble exactly a month ago will continue to play, while the remaining four teams will now pack their bags and go home.
Here’s a quick look at the quarterfinal pairings with the top four teams enjoying twice-to-beat advantages on the way to the semis.
No. 1.Barangay Ginebra (8-3) vs. No. 8 Rain or Shine (6-5).
One of the more exciting games during the elimination was Rain or Shine’s 85-82 win over Ginebra in overtime last Oct. 27.where Big Beau Belga finished with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
But that’s about the only good thing to say about the E-Painters in this No. 1 vs. No. 8 quarterfinal showdown.
The Gin Kings will almost surely go for the jugular and finish off the E-Painters when they get the first of two chances to clinch a semis berth starting Friday.
Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio and Joe de Vance are expected to bring their A-game for Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
Since losing to the E-Painters, the Gin Kings went 3-1 in their final four outings to clinch top seed and underscore their billing as the team to beat.
Belga, Javee Mocon, Rey Nambatac, Gabe Norwood and James Yap remain as the E-Painters’ biggest weapons for an upset.
No. 2 Phoenix (8-3) vs. No. 7 Magnolia (7-4)
This could easily be the most exciting, most entertaining of the four quarterfinal matchups.
Phoenix defeated Magnolia, 91-84, behind the combined 57 points of Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins and Justin Chua last Oct. 23.
The loss dropped Magnolia to 1-4.
From there, the Hotshots swept their next six games, including last Wednesday’s 95-80 win over Blackwater, for a 7-4 record.
Phoenix hopes to repeat with its best version of Wright, Perkins, Chua and comebacking Calvin Abueva.
For Magnolia, Paul Lee, Banchero, Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis and Marc Barroca will be the players to watch.
No. 3 Talk N Text (7-4) vs. No. 6 Alaska (7-4)
Talk N Text defeated Alaska, 100-95, in the very first day of the PBA restart last Oct. 11.
That was exactly a month ago.
A lot of things happened since then for both the Tropang Giga and the Aces. And now, they’re both 7-4.
Can the Tropang Giga repeat over the Aces?
A lot will depend on how the team’s superstars will perform, and the twice-to-beat advantage could be very hard to overhaul.
Advantage: Talk N Text.
No. 4 San Miguel (7-4) vs. No. 5 Meralco (7-4)
A fourth-place finish with a 7-4 record may really be un-San Miguel Beer like by its own standard.
But forget the past.
It’s playoff time in the PBA bubble. It’s San Miguel Beer’s time. Turn off the lights and just enjoy.
With a semis berth at stake and playing against a Meralco team needing to win two games in a row, San Miguel is expected to play San Miguel basketball again.
That means big numbers for Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot and Mo Tautuaa.
The last time the two teams met last Oct. 28, the Beermen rallied from a 13-point deficit to escape with an 89-82 victory.
Santos was his usual deadly self against the Bolts, finishing with his third double-double in the bubble. Cabagnot, on the other hand, scored nine of his 13 points in the payoff period.
Meralco gunners Chris Newsome, Raymond Almazan, Baser Amer, Rey Hugnatan and Aaron Black have work cut out for them to prevent an early exit.
Advantage: San Miguel
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