Showdown up for SMC-MVP teams
With the tumultuous Gilas Pilipinas-Australia game just a week old, a potential powder keg of a match kicks off the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup when defending champion San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa tangle on Monday at the start of their best-of-three series at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos of SMB and Terrence Romeo and David Semerad of TNT were thrown out when the Beermen nipped the KaTropa, 99-94, in their first meeting last June 16 and emotions are again expected to be high when the two flagship teams of the SMC and MVP franchises collide in their quest for a semifinal slot.
Barangay Ginebra and Meralco, sister squads of SMB and TNT, respectively, tangle in the other interesting best-of-three duel with the Gin Kings riding the crest of a five-game winning streak after a 1-5 start that included a 93-82 loss to the Bolts.
The four other quarterfinalists get going on Tuesday with Rain or Shine and Alaska, which finished 1-2 in the eliminations with respective win-loss cards of 9-2 and 8-3, needing just a win over their respective foes to advance.
The Elasto Painters will clash with the No. 8 qualifier GlobalPort Batang Pier (5-6) while the Aces will face the Magnolia Hotshots who made it as No. 7.
The KaTropa actually finished tied with the Aces at 8-3 after a 100-85 conquest of the uncaring Elasto Painters Saturday, but was ranked third due to the winner-over-the-other rule.
The Bolts wound up fourth at 7-4 after the one-round eliminations.
Magnolia also closed out its preliminary schedule with a 101-97 upset over SMB to forge a tie for fifth at 6-5 with its last victim and Ginebra. But the Hotshots, who played their last two games with the veteran Wayne Chism as their import, needed to beat the Beermen by at least 12 points to wind up No. 6 under the PBA quotient system.
SMB had earlier posted a 104-97 overtime win over Ginebra, which in turn had ripped Magnolia, 104-84, and went on to finish at No. 5.
The second meeting for the best-of-three rivals is set Wednesday with the prospect of additional games set on Thursday and Friday. The semifinals, which will pit the winners of the 1 vs 8 and 3 vs 6 duels and the 2 vs 7 and 4 vs 5 survivors will be a best-of-five.
Meanwhile, the PBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas continued to wait for the Fiba decision on the fate of the players who figured in a brawl that marred the Gilas-Australia match in the third window of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup last Monday at Philippine Arena.
Nine Gilas players and four Australians were ejected after the free-for-all that broke out late in the third quarter when Australian Daniel Kickert knocked down Roger Pogoy with an elbow to the face with Australia ahead, 79-48. The game was called with the score at 89-53 with 1:57 in the third when Gilas was left with only one player among the three left to resume the game.
Commissioner Willie Marcial had said he would appeal any Fiba suspension of the players from the league because the PBA is their main source of livelihood.