The playoffs of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup are set to begin on Wednesday and topseed Bay Area squad — which is considered as the most dominant foreign team to play in the league the past four decades — will have to wait until Sunday to determine which between NLEX and Rain or Shine will take the last quarterfinal seat.
There was a brief delay for the last ride going to the playoffs after Magnolia won over Rain or Shine, dragging the Elasto Painters to a knockout match against the Road Warriors.
I’m sure, the victorious squad will feel relieved in surviving the playoff for the eighth spot, but it’s going to be brief as they will be immediately thrown into the Dragons den.
Bay Area had beaten both these squads soundly and I expect the team to waltz its way to the quarterfinal round to meet the survivor of the other quarterfinals series.
Let’s take a quick round up on what I expect in the coming Commissioner’s Cup playoffs:
No. 2 Magnolia vs No. 7 Phoenix — Once the hottest team in the tournament, Phoenix has struggled in the previous games and unless the Fuel Masters had found the resolve to outlast the in-form and twice-to-beat Hotshots, we’re going to see coach Chito Victolero and his troops barging their way to the next round trouble-free.
No. 3 Ginebra vs No. 6 NorthPort — An interesting backdrop in the series are the personnel who were involved in the multi-player trade — Jamie Malonzo, Arvin Tolentino, Jeff Chan, Prince Caperal and Kent Salado. Each one of them has something to prove.
But again, Tim Cone and the Kings are looking good and appear to be carrying their more improved game to the next level and with new players like Malonzo and Jeremiah Gray getting more involved in the scheme of things and adding more depth to the Gin Kings, expect Barangay Ginebra to get past NorthPort in the series.
No. 4 Converge vs No. 5 San Miguel — This is going to be a good gauge to find out if Converge is definitely for real and there’s no better way than facing defending champion San Miguel Beer.
The FiberXers posted the longest winning streak by any team this conference and were never afraid to make a strong statement, proof of that was the decision to bench their import, Quincy Miller in one game.
More than the winning and losing, it’s the character of the FiberXers that should be given much credit made possible by new coach, Aldin Ayo.
But the Beermen are now back at full strength with six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and three-time scoring champion Terrence Romeo providing additional firepower for the squad that is now starting to peak at the right time.
San Miguel is now on a four-game winning run and with their rich playoff experience, expect the Beermen to impose their will against the upstart FiberXers.
Perhaps, the most interesting scene in the playoffs is the entry of Bay Area and I can see it making a deep run in this conference, if not going all the way.
Along the way, the Dragons will probably be pitted against the San Miguel Corporation teams — and it’s going to be a sure fire hit.
Bay Area against any among San Miguel Beer, Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra will surely be good for the league.