PBA playoffs on
Coach Nash Racela’s adverse mentality is quite understandable not only because the Beermen toppled the KaTropa in their lone encounter this conference, but the reigning all-Filipino champions also possess an import who has a daunting skill set anywhere on the floor.
Since Renaldo Balkman rejoined the Beermen, they were able to string up several wins that brought them to the No. 6 spot in a collision course with the third-ranked KaTropa.
Interestingly, the Beermen and the KaTropa represent the best teams of rival conglomerates in the league.
“We’re always the underdogs against them. But I think as long as we play the game correctly, it would serve us well,” said Racela.
Jayson Castro will suit up for the KaTropa after missing their final game of the eliminations against Rain Or Shine, something that could gain interest as the speedy point guard forms a mighty scoring tandem with Terrence Romeo in the backcourt.
Romeo, acquired by TNT through a trade with GlobalPort at the start of the conference, is excited in the prospect of progressing to the semifinals—something which has come rarely in his pro career.
The energetic guard is hungry to see action in a second post-elimination round appearance since his former team made it to the semifinals of the 2016 Philippine Cup.
“We’ll play all out here in the playoffs for us to get into the semis,” said Romeo in Filipino.
They’ll be matching up with SMB’s bigger guard rotation of Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter while TNT forwards Kelly Williams, Anthony Semerad and Troy Rosario should contain four-time season MVP June Mar Fajardo and the explosive Arwind Santos as Joshua Smith tries to negate Balkman around the rim.
Equally gripping will be the separate best-of-three quarterfinal face-off of the Meralco Bolts and the Barangay Ginebra Kings, finalists in the past two editions of the season-ending Governors’ Cup, with the crowd-favorite Kings winning on both occasions.
But while the Kings continue to hire the services of Justin Brownlee, the Bolts have brought in a bigger and bulkier import in Arinze Onuaku who can help Meralco pack the paint to cancel out Ginebra’s towering frontline of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.
The Gin Kings have won their last five games.
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