The 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup playoff primer
Paul Lintag on Jun 05, 2017 07:15 AM
Paul Lee stands in the way of Rain or Shine repeating as PBA Commissioner's Cup champions. Crazy, right? You better believe it.
If you found it hard to get invested in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup, don't blame yourself.
With too many breaks halting the action, it feels like the mid-season tournament has been going on forever.
If you found it hard to get invested in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup, it's time to dive into it now as the playoffs begin Monday with more than a few interesting subplots to watch out for.
The most obvious one of course is the matchup between defending champion Rain or Shine and Star.
The Hotshots missing out on a top-2 seed means that this is going to be a best-of-three series and the first playoff matchup for both squads since a certain trade happened in the offseason.
Rain or Shine won last year's title with Paul Lee as Finals MVP. Lee is now with Star and James Yap, the longtime face of the Purefoods franchise, is now an Elasto Painter.
Yeah, right? Get excited.
As for te rest of the field, read on and find out how to finally get invested in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs. Seriously, you're missing out on too much if you don't.
1. Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel vs. 8. Globalport Batang Pier
Brgy. Ginebra has been on another level in this conference. Save for a sluggish start that lasted less than two games, the Gin Kings are practically flawless.
Ending the elimination round with a four-game winning streak, Ginebra earned its first no. 1 seed since the 2014 Philippine Cup.
The Justin Brownlee gamble has been a success so far and LA Tenorio is prime candidate as the Best Player of the Conference. Japeth Aguilar is Japeth Aguilar and Tim Cone remains as the best coach in the league.
Really, there's no reason for the barangay not to advance to its thirs straight semifinals.
After a disaster start that saw them lose their first four games, the Batang Pier rallied to make the playoffs as the no. 8 seed, surviving the Alaska Aces in a do-or-die match to earn a date against the Gin Kings.
Globalport looks like a completely different team compared to the one that started out at 0-4.
The Batang Pier added a couple of local pieces via trade, found an effective import, and finally have Terrence Romeo healthy.
If Globalport is to take down Ginebra and its twice-to-beat advantage, Romeo will have to do Romeo things, say like hit game winners and stuff.
Still, in this 1-8 matchup, advantage goes to Ginebra. Duh.
Elimination round matchup: Ginebra def. Globalport, 113-96.
4. TNT KaTropa vs. 5. Meralco Bolts
Based on their respective records, this might be the closest series in the quarterfinals.
Before ultimately coming up short, both TNT (8-3) and Meralco (7-4) were in the thick of things as the race for the top-2 seeds got pretty intense.
However, both the MVP-owned teams settled just outside the top 3 and now found themselves in a best-of-three series, their second playoff encounter in three conferences.
After starting the conference with a 7-1 run, the Bolts are limping to the playoffs having lost three straight games.
But regardless of that losing skid, Meralco should still hold some psychological advantage over TNT having won five straight games against the KaTropa dating back to Game 2 of the 2016 Governors' Cup semifinals which the Bolts took in four games.
Going through three imports, four if we count Denzel Bowles, in the Commissioner's Cup, TNT made good account of themselves in the lead up to the quarterfinals.
The KaTropa beat two quality opponents in Alaska and Rain or Shine, integrating new reinforcement Joshua Smith just in time to make another run at at title.
This series should be as close as it could get.
Elimination round matchup: Meralco def. TNT, 94-89.
3. Star Hotshots vs. 6. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters
Star (9-2) is the number 3 seed anew even if its record is actually tied for first. Yep, blame the quotient system and the fact that the Hotshots' only two defeats this conference came at the hands of Ginebra and San Miguel.
Still, regardless of seeding, Star is heavily favored in its best-of-three showdown against defending champion Rain or Shine (5-6).
The Hotshots are coming into the playoffs with a five-game winning streak and with enough confidence to spare.
Replacing Tony Mitchell with Ricardo Ratliffe has put Star to a whole new level and even without Marc Pingris, the Hotshots are undisputedly the most dangerous team in these playoffs.
Enter the Elasto Painters, whose title defense has been rocky at best. Save for a big win against Brgy. Ginebra, Rain or Shine has once again struggled down the stretch of a conference despite starting with a perfect 3-0 record.
A good thing going on for the champs is the fact that all of their losses have been relatively close. A few good breaks here and there and we might be treating Rain or Shine with the respect it actually deserves.
Also, James Yap has been playing well all tournament long and facing the team that traded him in the offseason should have him super motivated.
Both teams shocked the Philippine basketball scene with the Yap-Lee trade late last year, now we finally get a series between the two. Get ready for an emotional showdown.
Elimination round matchup: Star def. Rain or Shine, 99-93.
2. San Miguel Beermen vs. 7. Phoenix Fuel Masters
Despite suffering back-to-back defeats, Phoenix had the chance to sneak into the playoffs without playing an additional knockout game.
And so head coach Ariel Vanguardia prayed for Phoenix, Alaska, and Globalport to end up in a triple tie for the Fuel Masters to steal the no. 7 seed.
The matchup for Phoenix however, are the San Miguel Beermen. Not exactly ideal but the Fuel Masters were never truly in an ideal situation to begin with.
In a fresh playoff series, with San Miguel holding a twice-to-beat advantage, Phoenix is hardly expected to put up a challenge against the mighty Beermen.
But stranger things have happened in the PBA and do remember that it was the Fuel Masters that handed San Miguel its lone elimination round loss in the Philippine Cup. Sure, imports are in play this conference but that still counts, right?
In this series though, even prayer might not be enough to stop San Miguel from advancing to another semifinals appearance.
Eliminaiton round matchup: San Miguel def. Phoenix, 110-88.
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