The quarterfinal round of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup is finally in the books. We’re now approaching the semifinals stage, where the pair of match-ups pit teams that couldn’t care less for one another.
The semis start this Wednesday, November 18th, with the Talk N’ Text Tropang Giga taking on the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters at 4:00 PM, and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel facing off against the Meralco Bolts at 6:45 PM.
Here now is a quick rundown of all the key storylines:
TNT VS. PHOENIX
Calvin Abueva vs. Ray Parks
There’s no love lost between these two studs, which is honestly quite exciting from a selfish fan’s standpoint.
The beef dates all the way back to May 2019, during a heated game between Phoenix and the Blackwater Elite, Ray Parks’s team at that time. It escalated when Calvin Abueva got into a verbal altercation with Parks’s girlfriend, Maika Rivera, who was sitting courtside.
Below is Parks telling his side of the story:
Rivera also made a statement through Instagram soon after.
The incident contributed to Abueva’s eventual 16-month suspension that came a week after. He was barred to play in a PBA game until two weeks ago.
Days before making his awaited comeback, Abueva claimed that he and Parks have patched things up, and that Parks even wished he can “come back soon.” Parks, however, strongly disputed the claim through an Instagram story.
That brings us to now, and it may be heated more than ever. On one side, you got Abueva, a master agitator that wears his heart in his sleeve, and on the other, you have Parks, one of the league’s best all-around scorers.
The offensive showdown
Phoenix (100.5 PPG, 13.4 3PG) and TNT (98.6 PPG, 11.5 3PG) are two of the highest-scoring offenses and best three-point shooting teams in the PBA, so we better expect offensive fireworks right from the tip.
TNT is boasting Parks, sharpshooter RR Pogoy, and veteran playmaking speedster Jayson Castro, while Phoenix has the rising and hungry core of Abueva, scoring machine Matthew Wright, big-bodied Jason Perkins, ‘3 and D’ guy RJ Jazul, and stretch five Justin Chua.
GINEBRA vs. MERALCO
Tim Cone vs. Norman Black
Tim Cone and Norman Black combine for 33 PBA championships. They are, without a doubt, two of the greatest, most beloved, and oldest coaches in the PBA, both among locals and foreigners. They’re honorary Filipinos if you ask Pinoy hoop fans.
What really stirs the intrigue, however, is the long-running, silent rivalry between them, which roots from decades and decades of facing each other. Don’t get me wrong: they’re grown men, so they’re cool with one another on most occasions, like this one. It’s just that when the stakes are high, the competitive juices boil, and heated run-ins occur too. Here’s a quick example:
Meralco’s attempt at getting over the hump
Ginebra has had Meralco’s number over the last couple of years. They’ve met in the playoffs four times since 2016, and the Gin Kings won every time. Each Ginebra victory had its own type of heartbreak too:
2016 Governor’s Cup Finals – Ginebra won the championship after a walk-off three-pointer by Justin Brownlee.
2017 Governor’s Cup Finals – Meralco managed to tie the series after going down 0-2, but fell short in a cardiac, hard-fought Game 7.
2018 Commissioner’s Cup Quarterfinals – Meralco blew its twice-to-beat advantage.
2019 Governor’s Cup Finals – Meralco looked good after a strong elimination round and playoff run, but embarrassingly lost in five games.