After a month of intense and high-level action, only eight teams are left and their seedings have been finalized. Now it’s time for the playoffs to begin at 4PM on Friday, November 13!
For the past month, we all saw one of the most competitive elimination rounds in recent memory. Most teams looked like they had legitimate chance to reach the playoffs, and even talent-heavy teams like the TNT Tropang Giga saw a few surprising defeats along the way.
And the upcoming playoffs are certainly looking like they will continue that theme of competitiveness.
Here is the playoff picture:
** – twice-to-beat advantage
- **Barangay Ginebra vs. (8) Rain or Shine
- **Phoenix vs. (7) Magnolia
- **TNT vs (6) Alaska
- **San Miguel vs. (5) Meralco
Let’s take an in-depth look at the match-ups.
(1)**Barangay Ginebra vs. (8) Rain or Shine
During the elimination round, these two teams showcased an incredible game that left fans at the edge of their seats.
Barangay Ginebra were coming off a lost to rival Magnolia at the time and were looking to get back on the winning track, while Rain or Shine were coming off their first loss of the season to Alaska after a 3-0 start.
Despite the great efforts of both teams, it was the Elasto Painters who came out on top with Beau Belga putting up a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Rey Nambatac proved why he is the closer as despite finishing with only eight points, he hit the game saving shot to send the game into overtime.
Scottie Thompson had a stellar game as well for the Kings with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Stanley Pringle finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Despite having three losses in the season, only the game against Rain or Shine showed the weakness of Barangay Ginebra this season.
The Kings are obviously the more dominant team, hence why they got the number one seed. But it seems that the absence of Greg Slaughter is being felt when they go up against a team that has a very physical squad.
During their meeting, Belga overpowered guys like Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Prince Caperal inside which allowed him to grab 10 total rebounds, with four of them coming on the offensive end.
Now, you could make a argument that that’s not really the case and that Barangay Ginebra only played a bad game.
That could be the case, but the defense of the Elasto Painters was also in full display at that night. The Kings are averaging 92.9 points per game but were held to only 76 points in the fourth quarter in regulation.
Barangay Ginebra is obviously still the much better team in this match-up but if there is one team that could pull off another big upset, Rain or Shine could have the confidence and to do it.
(2)**Phoenix vs. (7) Magnolia
This match-up is very interesting for me simply because both teams are entering the playoffs with HUGE momentum on their side.
Phoenix have a four game-win streak along with a twice-to-beat advantage. In their last game of the season, they took down Rain or Shine to secure the second seed in a tightly contested game.
Magnolia also won their last game of the elimination round and have a six-game winning streak.
When both teams met during the elimination round, it was a tightly contested game with both teams exchanging big plays and crucial stops.
The Fuel Masters took the win, 91-84, with Matthew Wright finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Jason Perkins backed him up with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
The Hotshots had five guys score in double figures but it was Chris Banchero who took over with 20 points while Ian Sangalang added 15 points and four rebounds off the bench.
There are multiple interesting factors between these two teams ahead of their playoff match-up.
First of all, the last time Magnolia lost a game was during that game.
Another factor is that Phoenix won the rebounding battle 52-48 despite not having Calvin Abueva back yet.
Now, the Hotshots will be facing a very different Phoenix squad since the Beast is already back in the line-up.
However, Paul Lee has been playing out of his mind in his last six games and the Fuel Masters are not best known for their defense.
With Magnolia being the superior team in terms of defense and possessing the deadly scoring of Lee, and Phoenix being a far better scoring team with the intensity on defense of Abueva, this is a series that you don’t want to miss.
(3)**TNT vs (6) Alaska
The last time these two teams met was during the first day of the PBA Bubble.
These two teams opened the restart and to me, it’s just right that one of them will eliminate the other this season.
That game was best remembered as the game where RR Pogoy scored 45 points and helped TNT complete a 17-point comeback.
But what a lot of people forgot about that game is the fact that Alaska had control of that game early on and were even in the driver’s seat for most of the game.
That night, four Aces scored over 15 points. Abu Tratter had 17 points while Mike DiGregorio and Robbie Herndon both finished with 16 points. Vic Manuel had 15 points.
Throughout the season, both teams had very different journey.
The Tropang Giga went on to dominate most of their competition with their all-star five of Jayson Castro, Pogoy, Ray Parks, Troy Rosario and Poy Erram. However, multiple losses from teams they should’ve beaten changed how fans and critics looked at them.
The Aces, on the other hand, had multiple games where they emerged victorious after being tested from the start to finish. This solidified them as a squad not to be taken lightly.
Now, both teams will meet again and despite the twice-to-beat-advantage of TNT, this series like the other series this year, feels like two games are needed to finally beat the other.
(4)**San Miguel vs. (5) Meralco
Last on the list, is probably the most intriguing pairing on the list.
And unfortunately, it’s mainly because this is the first playoff series since 2012 that San Miguel will be playing without June Mar Fajardo.
It’s no secret that the Beermen are looking to do a six-peat in the Philippine Cup this season.
But that goal was left with a huge question mark after Fajardo suffered a season ending injury before the start of the season. Things didn’t become better for San Miguel as Matt Ganuelas-Rosser decided not to join the bubble and Terrence Romeo suffered a shoulder injury which resulted to his exit from the restart squad.
Now, in a match-up against a very competitive Meralco team, the Beermen have a huge hurdle to keep their six-peat dreams alive.
The first time these two met this season, we were treated to a nail-biting game.
San Miguel completed a 13-point comeback in the game all thanks to Mo Tautuaa who finished with 23 points and five rebounds. Arwind Santos backed him up with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Baser Amer showed up for the Bolts as he finished with 17 points while Chris Newsome showcased an all-around game with 14 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals.
This series has a lot on the line for the both teams. The Beermen with their six-peat dreams and Meralco looking to finally have some glory in the Philippine Cup conference.
What do you think? Which teams will make the top 4? Sound off below in the comment section!