The semifinal round of the 2020 Philippine Cup of the 45th Season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) can only be described in three words: MUST SEE TV.
The first six games of the semifinals have been spectacular and filled with great action.
On one series, we’ve got a rivalry that added another chapter to their story, with one team looking to continue their dominance and the other looking to start their own path to glory and putting their rival down on their way to the top.
The other series have one team looking to complete their Cinderella run while the other looking to fulfill the prophecy of a lot fans and critics heading into this season because of their “super-team”.
Barangay Ginebra, Meralco, Phoenix and Talk ‘n Text (TNT), all four teams have been balling at a high level, but right now, let’s take a look at four individuals that have been stepping up in the semifinals for their teams.
Meralco Bolts – Allein Maliksi
When Allein Maliksi got traded to Meralco last conference, everyone expected him to be that deadly sniper veteran leader that can come off the bench or be part of the starting five and be productive in either situation.
This season he has already proven it but in this semifinal series, it seems that he took his game to another level.
The 33-year-old sharpshooter has been very impressive despite the fact that they’re down 1-2 in the series against the Barangay Ginebra.
In the three games in the series, Maliksi is averaging 20.3 points while shooting 53% from the field and 68% from three. In the two games that they lost; it was him who kept them fighting but came up short both times.
In Game 1, the Kings took the win, 96-79, but Maliksi dropped 24 points, four rebounds and shot 70% in the field and went 5-5 from three-point land.
Most recently, in Game 3, they went down in the series, 84-91, but once again the four-time PBA champion had a big game with 23 points off the bench and shot 6-10 from long distance.
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Whatever the outcome of this series will be, Maliksi has proven that he is still one of the elite two guards in the league and he is a piece you’d definitely want to have on your team.
Barangay Ginebra – Stanley Pringle
Looking at the Barangay Ginebra in this series, they have been playing great TEAM basketball.
Heck, they’ve been doing it since Tim Cone came on board in 2015.
However, this series we’re seeing that despite having a team-first playstyle Cone and the Kings have “The Man” with Stanley Pringle.
Pringle has been the best player in this series.
Despite being with a squad that has a team first mentality, which is very different to his days with NorthPort where he had the ball all the time, the 33-year-old explosive scorer never left his aggressive mentality behind.
In their Game 1 win, Pringle dropped a team-high 19 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
He struggled in Game 2 of the series, only finishing with nine points in 4-16 shooting which led to them losing the game, 77-95.
However, in Game 3, he bounced back and had a 24-point outburst with nine rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers.
This is the first time since the 2015-2016 Philippine Cup that Pringle competed in the semifinal stage of the PH Cup and he is certainly playing like a man on a mission.
Special shoutout to Prince Caperal, as well. It’s hard to not put Pringle in this list but this young big-man is certainly playing at a high level in this series.
TNT Tropang Giga – Ray Parks
TNT is in trouble. Down 1-2 in the series, the “super-team” is on the verge of eliminated in the tournament and becoming part of the few super teams in PBA history to fail to win a title in the All-Filipino Cup.
Although, we still don’t know what could happen in Game 4 and the future of this team, one thing is for certain: Ray Parks has been consistently great in this series.
The 27-year-old all-around forward has been balling at an elite level in his first semifinals in the Philippine Cup.
In Game 1, he showcased an all-around performance with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals to help his Tropang Giga take a 1-0 lead in the series, 95-92.
Parks followed it up by dropping 41 points and dropping 10 three-pointers but sadly, it was not enough to give them a 2-0 lead in the series as Phoenix was able to pull off a big win thanks to the last man on this list. A big part of the reason why TNT couldn’t complete their comeback win was because Parks fouled out halfway through the final quarter.
And in their last game, Parks was once again all over the court as he finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists but once again, they fell short and went down, 1-2, in the series, 89-92.
Although Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy have had big games in the series, it’s Parks who’s been consistent from Game 1 to Game 3 and TNT surely needs another big performance for him to tie the series and keep their PH Cup title alive.
Phoenix Fuel Masters – Calvin Abueva
Heading into the season, no one expected Phoenix to be competitive. No one expected for Matthew Wright to play at the MVP level or knew that Calvin Abueva would be making his return.
However, as of the moment, Phoenix has a 2-1 lead in the series and is now one win away from reaching its first franchise Finals appearance.
And I know that Wright balled out in their last game but it’s “The Beast” who kept Fuel Masters from drifting into the abyss when Wright suffered an injury in Game 1 and had an off game in Game 2.
In Game 1, Abueva’s energy gave TNT quite a scare in the closing moment of the game and he finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
In Game 2, down 0-1, the 32-year-old forward pulled off a huge game to tie the series and avoid the brink of elimination.
Abueva had a huge double-double with 20 points, 15 rebounds (seven of which is offensive boards), four assists and two steals.
And in Game 3 of the series, it was Wright who had a huge game and clutch plays to take a 2-1 lead in the series, but the former San Sebastian standout had a monster double-double again with 24 points, 14 rebounds with six assists and four steals.
Phoenix is now one win away from reaching the Finals, which makes Game 4 a must see.
Catch the next games the semifinals on November 25 with Barangay Ginebra and Meralco opening the double-header at 3:45 p.m. TNT and Phoenix will clash at 6:30 p.m.
Who do you think will take Game 4 of each series? Who do you think will make the finals? Sound off below in the comment section.