It will be the turn of TNT and Phoenix Super LPG to literally send their quarterfinal opponents home and advance to the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
TNT battles Alaska in the 4 p.m. curtain raiser before Phoenix tackles Magnolia in the second game set at 6:45 p.m. Both the Tropang Giga and Fuel Masters carry a twice-to-beat advantage.
Phoenix went 8-3 in the eliminations to clinch the No. 2 seed while TNT placed third for having the best quotient among the five teams that went 7-4.
The Tropang Giga beat the Aces and the Fuel Masters defeated the Hotshots in their elims matches that were tightly-contested.
RR Pogoy’s career-high 45 points on 10 three-pointers highlighted TNT’s 100-95 win over Alaska when the league officially kicked off the restart inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
Pogoy ended the eliminations as TNT’s second leading scorer at 18.8 points, trailing Ray Parks Jr. (20.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals) who was not around when the Tropang Giga faced the Aces.
Despite accepting the role of being out of the limelight for most of the season, Jayson Castro (18.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.7 steals) was still an integral part of the success of the TNT side of coach Bong Ravena and active consultant Mark Dickel.
Big men Poy Erram (12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Troy Rosario (12.3 points, 8.1 rebounds) will have a tough task of containing their counterparts from the Aces, who are expected to impose their physicality down low.
Vic Manuel (15.9 points, 6.0 rebounds) bucked a slow start while Abu Tratter (11.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) and Rodney Brondial (6.6 points and 6.2 rebounds) to lead Alaska’s 7-2 stretch after losing the first two games while Barkley Ebona (7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds) emerged as one of the league’s top rookies.
Robbie Herndon (12.6 points on 44-percent shooting), Mike DiGregorio (11.5 points on 42-percent clip) and Jvee Casio (8.2 points, 2.6 assists and 1.5 steals) could give the TNT backcourt some trouble on both ends.
Meanwhile, Phoenix could see a Magnolia side determined to continue its winning run and make up for losing their elims meeting against the Fuel Masters.
The Hotshots lost 91-84 after allowing the Fuel Masters to go on a 24-4 finishing kick, a result that eventually played a role in their need to win the quarters matchup twice.
But Magnolia is on roll with six consecutive victories following a 1-4 start, thanks in large part to Paul Lee (19.9 points on 46.9 percent shooting), Ian Sangalang (14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds), the pesky backcourt of Chris Banchero (11.0 points, 3.7 assists), Mark Barroca (10.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 steals), Jio Jalalon (8.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals) and the hardworking Jackson Corpuz (8.3 points, 6.5 rebounds).
Phoenix is back in the playoffs for the first time since a breakthrough semis appearance in last year’s Philippine Cup. The Fuel Masters are hungry to do it again under new coach Topex Robinson with Matthew Wright (22.8 points on 44.7 shooting), Jason Perkins (19.1 points, 9.5 rebounds), Calvin Abueva (13.7 points, 10.7 assists, 6.7 assists) and silent operator Justin Chua (13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and a league-best 1.7 blocks).