Sudden death in PBA bubble

Published November 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra attempts a shot against Meralco defenders in Game 4 of their semifinals duel. (PBA Images)

It’s make or break for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Meralco, TNT and Phoenix Super LPG as the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals goes the full distance with a pair of deciding Game 5s on Friday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

First to dispute a slot in the best-of-seven Finals are TNT and Phoenix at 3:45 p.m. before Ginebra and Meralco wraps up another chapter of their rivalry in the second game at 6:30 p.m.

The winners will face off in a title showdown which starts Sunday while the losers will see their two-month stint inside the Smart Clark Giga City come to an end.

Meralco and TNT send their respective series to a win-or-go-home scenario following victories in Wednesday’s Game 4.

Reynel Hugnatan’s clutch jumper and Raymond Almazan’s block sealed the Bolts’ 83-80 win while Ray Parks Jr. and Jayson Castro powered TNT past Phoenix 102-101.

For Ginebra, it’s another chance at showing why it has lorded over Meralco in their previous four playoff encounters, including the 2016, 2017 and 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.

But Meralco is determined to finally exorcise its demons against Ginebra and advance to its first-ever Philippine Cup Finals.

Also eyeing a breakthrough is Phoenix which has never made the championship round since it entered the PBA in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.

TNT, meanwhile, shoots for a second finals appearance in three conferences while keeping alive its quest for a first title since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.

Possible scenarios could see the first Finals meeting between TNT and Meralco, teams owned by Manny V. Pangilinan.

Ginebra, though, is looking to continue the dominance of San Miguel Corporation, which has seen its teams won championships in the last 10 conferences.

A Ginebra-TNT duel will intensify the corporate rivalry of SMC and MVP Group,  Ginebra-Phoenix could pose as another interesting affair while a Meralco-Phoenix will see a battle pitting teams that weren’t expected to reach that far.

The stars of the semifinals are poised to bring their A-game, namely Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle, Phoenix’s Matthew Wright, TNT’s Parks and Castro and Meralco’s Chris Newsome.