The way things are going, itll be pretty foolish to pick any team NOT named Talk N Text to romp through the competition and lift the Philippine Cup trophy. The Texters lost just two games in the elims, and they are one of only two teams with 3 or more players in the Top 15 of the Player Efficiency ladder (the other team is Alaska). And none of those players is even Jimmy Alapag.
Their opponents in the quarterfinals are the Air 21 Express, who lumbered into the Final 8 after beating the Batang Pier last Wednesday and after the Energy Colas lost to Rain or Shine two days later. Nio Caaleta exploded for 40 points in the Expresss win over Global Port, and coach Franz Pumaren will need him to be just as sharp against the deep roster of coach Norman Black.
In the next bracket, the 4-5 match-up pits the Meralco Bolts against the Alaska Aces, with both teams carrying identical 8-6 slates. They split their season series, with the average winning margin standing at just 5 points. With arguably the two top rookies (Meralcos Cliff Hodge versus Alaskas Calvin Abueva) going head-to-head, this should be one of the most exciting series to watch. Both teams are entering the Playoffs on winning streaks, but I think the Bolts should have a bit of an edge after beating the Mixers. This should be fun, and it should go the distance.
The other best-of-three series will pit Rain or Shine against Ginebra. Ginebra has the edge in depth, but RoS has more grit. One interesting thing here is the chemistry between Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio. Their combination hasnt performed as strongly as, in theory, it should, but that may change when the stakes get higher. Right now, the Painters arent exactly doing well, too. They lost to the Kings and the Mixers before romping over the lowly Colas. Like the previous match-up, this, too, should go all the way to a third game. Im picking the Caguioa-Tenorio combo to finally kick into high gear and the Kings to move on.
Whoever moves on in that match-up will have a tough time in the semis, since theyre bound to face either the Mixers or the Boosters. In their only match-up in the elims, the Mixers practically dominated the Boosters until Petron made a rally in the fourth period. June Mar Fajardo put up a huge double-double, but his effort was pretty much negated by the great game of Yance De Ocampo. That will be a key match-up here along with those of Arwind Santos against Marc Pingris and the duo of Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter, who didnt play in the first meeting, versus San Migs James Yap and PJ Simon. I think the Mixers are going to be a little too tough for Petron, even if Im expecting Santos to have another big game. The Mixers need only one game to advance.
Game Recaps: RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO-PAINTERS over BARAKO BULL ENERGY COLAS, 116-101
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao was caught in heavy Friday traffic, failing to make it in time for the start of the Elasto Painters match against Barako Bull at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
But Guiao had specific instructions for chief deputy Caloy Garcia starting the game with seldom-used Jonathan Uyloan before bringing in the returning Paul Lee at the six minute mark in the first quarter and the tactical moves worked to perfection in an easy 116-101 victory.
Uyloan played the game of his career, finishing with 18 points, three steals, and two blocks, while Lee played as if he hadnt missed Rain or Shines past 18 games dating back to last season, contributing 16 points, six assists, and four rebounds.
They led six players who scored in double-figures as Rain or Shine finished the elimination round with a 9-5 record.
Unexpected naming ma-le-late si Coach Yeng, but when he called up, we thought na baka hindi na siya umabot, said Caloy Garcia, who took over the reins of the squad. His first instruction when he called up is to field in Paul Lee after six minutes, then have Jonathan starting for us.
The nice thing about this win was everybody stepped up.
Jervy Cruz also scored a career-high 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field.
Jeff Chan and JR Quinahan each had 11 points while Beau Belga chipped in 10 for the Elasto Painters.
The loss eliminated Barako Bull (4-10) from playoff contention, giving the Air 21 Express (5-9) the last ticket to the quarterfinals.
SAN MIG COFFEE MIXERS over GLOBAL PORT BATANG PIER, 107-96
Needing to win one win to secure the twice-to-beat prize for the Philippine Cup quarterfinals, San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone knew his team would to struggle for it.
The Coffee Mixers did it the hard way, hacking out a 107-96 win against a GlobalPort squad that fought hard despite playing merely for pride Friday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Peter June Simon came up big, picking up the slack for the hurting James Yap with 27 points to lead the way for the Mixers, who formalized their hold of the No. 2 spot in the quarterfinal round.
I know it wasnt pretty, but its a lot harder than what people see from the outside, said Cone.
Theres the other team which has gotten loose and another team looked stressed. Looking at each other, you know theres going to be a real battle. Certainly, theres no easy games in the PBA.
San Mig Coffee did not get its rhythm going until the early part of the fourth quarter, when the Mixers outscored the Batang Pier, 34-18, to secure their 10th win in 13 games.
We just took care of business tonight. I told my players that all we have to do is walk out there and win. Lets not misunderstand our expectations. We dont have to win by 25 points, but we only need to win by one and win, said Cone.
The Mixers still have one game left on their elimination round schedule against the Meralco Bolts, but are locked into a playoff duel against the underachieving but dangerous Petron Blaze Boosters.
Anybody could pick a harder opponent, but Petron. Theres a saying that you dont choose who to play in the playoffs because you need to go through everyone of them, said Cone.
GlobalPort ended its campaign with just a lone win to show in 14 games.
SMC 107- Simon 27, De Ocampo 18, Pingris 14, Barroca 12, Ramos 8, Yap 8, Reavis 7, Devance 5, Intal 4, Villanueva 4, Gonzales 0. GLO 96- David 22, Al-Hussaini 20, Deutchman 13, Miller 13, Mandani 10, Salvador 6, Guevarra 4, Raymundo 2, Manuel 2, Lingganay 2, Yee 2, Vanlandingham 0. QS: 20-27; 47-49; 73-78; 107-96
MERALCO BOLTS over SAN MIG COFFEE MIXERS, 87-77
The Meralco Bolts took care of business Sunday, defeating the San Mig Coffee Mixer 87-77 at the SM Mall of Asia Coliseum to set up a quarterfinals showdown against the Alaska Aces.
With the Mixers already safely ensconced in the quarterfinals San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone opted to rest hurting superstar James Yap it was the Bolts who dominated the game for their eighth win in 14 contests.
Veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds for Meralco, which finished with the eliminations with the same record as the Aces. The two teams will start their best-of-three playoff encounter on Wednesday.
We really put our spirit to a test. We wanted to come up with our best finish for our young franchise and break some barriers. True enough, we finished No. 4, said Gregorio.
But unlike San Mig Coffee, which has the luxury of resting its key players, including James Yap, we had to find ways to win.
The smaller Bolts had to outwork the bigger Mixers. Meralco outrebounded San Mig Coffee, 57-43.
Were a small team, so we have the mindset of rebounding by committee and thats exactly what we did tonight. In fact, we had six offensive rebounds to end the game, said Gregorio.
It was Hugnatan who hurt the Mixers more with his hustle plays and timely baskets. He had eight points in the fourth period, including an inside stab off a pass from Mercado that gave the Bolts an 83-71 lead, 4:11 left.
Meralcos victory means Rain or Shine will face Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the quarterfinals in another best-of-three series.
Both of those pairings will kick off Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
San Mig Coffee, meanwhile, will have twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against Petron in the series that begins Thursday, also at the Big Dome.
TALK N TEXT TROPANG TEXTERS over BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS, 87-80
The Talk N Text Tropang Texters rallied to beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 87-80, Sunday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena to ride into the Philippine Cup quarterfinals with a victory under their belt.
Ali Peek had 16 points, 18 rebounds, and three blocks to lead Talk N Text, which came back from a 17-point third quarter deficit to book the victory.
The game held little meaning for either team, as both were locked into their respective quarterfinal matchups. But the two squads didnt play like it was a no-bearing game, with the action getting heated at several junctures.
Theres no such thing as a non-bearing game. The objective is to always give the paying customers their moneys worth. Ive been long enough in the league and I know our priority is the customers and win basketball games for them. We all owe it to the fans, said Talk N Text coach Norman Black.
The win was more about pride. Were the No. 1 team no matter what, but we may see this team down the road.
The Tropang Texters worked double time on defense in the fourth period, when they held their rivals to just two field goals.
Barangay Ginebras seven-point output in the final period is the teams lowest scored this conference. The Gin Kings last field goal came at the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter courtesy of Rico Maierhofer.
Talk N Text finished with just two defeats in 14 elimination round games, while Ginebras win-loss record fell to 7-7 to wrap up its campaign.
The Tropang Texters will play Air 21 in the quarterfinals, with the Tropang Texter enjoying twice-to-beat advantage. The series starts on Thursday.
You cant take any team for granted. I believe theyre better than their record, said Peek.
Ginebra will take on Rain or Shine in a best-of-three series that kicks off Wednesday. It marks the second straight year the two teams face each other in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals. The Elasto Painters swept the Gin Kings in two games last season in the final eight of the same tournament.
Blatche Andray 211-F/C-86 Xinjiang FT Jayson Castro William 180-PG-86 Talk N Text Gabe Norwood 196-G/F-85 Rain or Shine June Mar Fajardo 210-C-89 San Miguel Beermen Japeth Aguilar 206-C-85 Barangay Ginebra Ranidel deOcampo 197-F-81 Talk N Text Terrence Bill Romeo 180-PG-92&... [read more]
TURKEY over PHILIPPINES, 103-68 Turkey got the more than easy 103-68 win over Philippines in their preparation game in Istanbul. The two teams may face each other in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila, Philippines, as they start their games in different groups and if this game can be considered a sample, Turkey is at least in much better condition. Center Semih Erden and forward Baris Hersek with 16 points each were the top scorers of the winners. Furkan Korkmaz who is expe... [read more]
TURKEY over PHILIPPINES, 103-68 Turkey got the more than easy 103-68 win over Philippines in their preparation game in Istanbul.
The two teams may face each other in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila, Philippines, as they start their games in different groups and if this game can be considered a sample, Turkey is at least in much better condition.
Center Semih Erden and forward Baris Hersek with 16 points each were the top scorers of the winners. Furkan Korkmaz who is expected to hear his name in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft, returned to Turkey and scored 5 points. Andray Blatche had 23 points for the losing side and Jayson Williams added 15 points.
ITALY over PHILIPPINES, 106-70 Italy got an easy win over Philippines in the first day of the preparation tournament in Bologna. The final score was 106-70 for the hosts and it was flattering for the guests who were trailing 62-15 before the half time.
The first 20 minutes of action ended with a 41 points advantage for Italy (64-23) which got 20 points by Danilo Gallinari in 15 minutes of action, 14 points by Pietro Aradori who came from the bench and 11 by Marco Bellineli.
Philippines was outplayed in every possible way and Andray Blatche with 21 points was as usual the only brightspot for them.
With the two conferences of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) done with the San Miguel Beermen overcoming the odds from a 3-0 deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title in seven games against the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ruling the Commissioner's Cup against the same Aces, another conference is shaping to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory. Returning imports showcases the upcoming Governor's Cup which will have its... [read more]
With the two conferences of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) done with the San Miguel Beermen overcoming the odds from a 3-0 deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title in seven games against the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ruling the Commissioner's Cup against the same Aces, another conference is shaping to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory.
Returning imports showcases the upcoming Governor's Cup which will have its tip-off on July 15.
Asian imports will also be featured in this conference led by the returning Michel Madanly (194-G-81) for the Texters. Phoenix had tapped the services of 6-foot-3 Korean Lee Kwan Hee to bolster its guard-forward rotation.
Here are the complete lineup of reinforcements for all contending teams:
Aris Ignacio is from the Philippines and has always been a big fan of Philippine basketball. Aris' follows the Philippine Basketball Association since the late 80's and has learned the history and personalities of the PBA. He also has interest with other basketball tournaments in the Philippines and beyond most specifically college basketball (UAAP, NCAA), the Asian Basketball League (ABL), FIBA Asia and World Cup tournaments. Follow Aris Ignacio on Twitter at aris_ignacio.
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