TOP seed Barangay Ginebra takes on Rain or Shine and defending champion San Miguel Beer battles Meralco in a pair of exciting playoff matches in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports and Cultural Center.
The Gin Kings, who finished with a league-best 8-3 win-loss, record, and the Beermen, who wound up fourth with a 7-4 record, enjoy twice-to-beat advantages and need only to win over the E-Painters and the Bolts today to advance to the semifinal phase.
Action begins at 4 p.m. today after the league took a day off Thursday.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone reminded his team about the pressure of being No. 1.
“We don’t know who to prepare for so it’s all about taking care of ourselves, making sure we get ourselves ready, making sure we understand the pressure of being the No. 1 seed,” said Cone.
“When you’re the No. 1 seed everybody assumes you’re gonna make it to the finals. But that’s not always the case,” added Cone, recalling the 2018 Governors Cup where they list eventual champion Magnolia.
The quarterfinal matchups are finalized at the end of the elimination round last Wednesday, with Phoenix Super LPG beating Rain or Shine, 90-88, to clinch No. 2 seed.
Phoenix’s dramatic, come-from-behind victory also helped decide the placing of the other qualifiers despite finishing with similar records.
As the No. 2 team, Phoenix will now meet No. 7 Magnolia with a twice-to-beat incentive tomorrow (Saturday).
“Getting No. 2 is just a by-product of what we’ve worked for,” said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson after the win over Rain or Shine.
“We know this is gonna be a big challenge for us from hereon. If teams don’t want to take No.2 we’re always gonna take it, we’re always gonna fight for it,” he added.
Robinson is aware of the Hotshots’ six-game winning streak.
In the other quarterfinal match-up tomorrow, No. 3 Talk N Text will meet No. 6 Alaska Milk.
The Tropang Giga, who started their bubble journey with five straight victories, and the Aces, will square off at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The remaining four teams — NLEX, Blackwater, NorthPort and TerraFirma — were eliminated.
The departure of the eliminated teams, however, was reportedly rescheduled due to typhoon Ulysses.
Earlier, Paul Lee of Magnolia emerged as the Cignal TV-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week.
The former UE Red Warrior lit up the scoreboard and averaged 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the period Nov. 3-8.
The Hotshots won all their four games during that stretch – five in all dating back to the Manila Classico – to raise their record at 6-4 heading to the final stretch of the eliminations.
Meralco guard Aaron Black, on the other hand, took “Rookie of the Week honor with an average of 5.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in quality minutes off the bench as the Bolts went on a solid 3-1 record in a week to fan their first All-Filipino conference playoff hopes for the first time since 2015.
Lee started the week with a 27-point explosion in the Hotshots’ 102-92 victory over previous league leader Talk N Text, a 29-point job in a 103-89 beating of Terrafirma followed by a 31-point outburst in a 70-62 win over Rain or Shine, which he capped with back-to-back fadeaways late in the game.
(AUF Sports Center)
4 p.m. — San Miguel vs. Meralco
6:45 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs. Ginebra