We’re inching closer to the finish line as we’ve narrowed down the PBA field to just four teams. Four different groups. Four different stories. All four with one goal, but eventually, only two will remain.
How will these Semifinals go? Let’s break it down:
#2 Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters vs. #3 TNT Tropang GIGA
Thank God we’re getting more than one game between these two teams. So much is at stake and the basketball promises to be exquisite for this series.
The Fuel Masters are coming into the semifinals as the hottest team in the league, and they further solidified their stock by beating the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots in an instant classic. This is it, their chance at flipping the script and establishing themselves as part of the league’s elite. More than Calvin Abueva’s redemption tour, this is also Matthew Wright’s opportunity at establishing his stature in the PBA. Legacies are at stake for the Fuel Masters, whether it be for individuals or one team.
The same can be said for the steady TNT Tropang GIGA. They’ve been the league’s perennial bridesmaids for the last five years and the pressure is on for them to win in this conference. The clock is ticking for Jayson Castro; he isn’t getting any younger. RR Pogoy has been fiery this conference, but there are still questions whether his style of play is sustainable for a winning run. The same can be said for talented youngsters Bobby Ray Parks and JP Erram.
The potential difference maker that tips the scales for TNT will be The Blur. He is too good and determined to let this opportunity slip away from his hands.
Or maybe it’s Wright who takes his game to an even greater level. Who knows, maybe Pogoy squashes doubters with a fiery five-game stretch. Buckle up. There’s a lot of uncertainty between these two teams and we will likely see a series that stretches to five games. This is going to be a classic.
Prediction: TNT in 5
#1 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel vs. #5 Meralco Bolts
While TNT and Phoenix both follow a similar theme, the Ginebra-Meralco series is largely different. This is a battle between experience and potential; the former is the clear favorite. The question is, can the latter find a way to pull off an upset?
Ginebra has been a completely different beast in the bubble. Make no mistake about it, the Gin Kings aren’t a beat up, injury-laden group. They’re as healthy and as hungry as ever. Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar continue to stake their claim as the league’s premier 1-2 punch. Helping them out is a bench that’s filled with talent across all ages. Coach Tim Cone’s ability to adapt to the ever-evolving game has been remarkable. A victory in the Philippine Cup only further establishes Ginebra as the new superpower in the PBA.
But if there’s a team that knows a thing or two about knocking off dynasties, it’s the Meralco Bolts. While Ginebra is a different beast, this is still a group that’s fresh off eliminating the San Miguel Beermen in a dominant quarterfinal showing. The team’s spirits are at an utmost high. This team is deep, hungry, and talented. We don’t know this group’s ceiling yet and there is a possibility of them raising their game to even greater heights.
However, this series is still Ginebra’s to lose. This is a team that’s primed to take over the PBA for the foreseeable future. Meralco will definitely put up a great fight, but Ginebra’s depth, coaching, and experience will trump the Bolts’ youth and potential.
Prediction: Ginebra in 4