Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT are out to show why they are preseason picks to win the crown as they look to gain a headstart against their foes on Wednesday in the opener of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
TNT and Phoenix Super LPG kick things off at 3:45 p.m. before Ginebra and Meralco open another chapter in their rivalry in the other best-of-five semifinal series scheduled at 6:30 p.m.
Ginebra has the edge over Meralco, having won all of their four playoff battles since 2016, including three victories in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, while the TNT-Phoenix faceoff is considered as a series too close to call.
The Kings, the top seed of the playoffs, made their way to the semifinals for the ninth time in coach Tim Cone’s tenure after needing just one game to eliminate the eighth-ranked Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
But Meralco goes into the series with huge confidence after ending the Philippine Cup reign of San Miguel Beer by winning twice in their quarterfinal duel.
Having beaten the Beermen in an unthinkable may give the Bolts a good chance of pulling another upset against their old tormentors.
“They’ve been getting the better end of the matchup, but hopefully we can change that this conference,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, who labeled Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson as players that can inflict damage for Ginebra.
Black can only hope that the core of Chris Newsome, Baser Amer, Raymond Almazan, Reynel Hugnatan, Allein Maliksi and rookie Aaron Black can turn the tide this time.
In the other semis series, it seems that no one has the advantage for TNT and Phoenix in terms of talent.
Among the anticipated matchups are Statistical Points leader Matthew Wright of Phoenix against RR Pogoy of TNT, Ray Parks Jr. opposite Calvin Abueva, Troy Rosario locking horns with Jason Perkins while Poy Erram and top shotblocker Justin Chua figuring in a pivot battle between two former Ateneo teammates.
TNT captain Jayson Castro and Phoenix’s RJ Jazul will also be crucial in their respective teams’ chances of winning the series.