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The Final Four

  • Written by Ed Andaya
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 110


AND now there are only four teams -- defending champion San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra,  Magnolia and NLEX.

After 40  playing  days and 73  games,  push  will  finally  come into shove as the top four teams after the  elimination  and  quarterfinal rounds meet in a pair of best-of-seven series for the right to dispute the ultimate prize: the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.

San Miguel  (8-3) vs Ginebra (6-5)

How  they get there:

San  Miguel def. Talk N Text, 106-93;  Ginebra def. Rain or Shine, 88-80 and  99-91.

Four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo will provide the big difference in what could be another heart-stopping  semifinal showdown between  two of the league’s most popular teams.

Fajardo, voted  as Mr. Basketball by  the Philippine Sportswriters Association  (PSA), can be really  be unstoppable  playing  alongside Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot.
Nicknamed  the ‘Kraken’,  the  6-10 Fajardo leads the league in  both  scoring  ( 22.8 points)  and  rebounding (13.8)  while playing nearly 38 minutes a game.
Against Talk  N  Text, Fajardo  had  a  monster game of  35  points (on 15-of-19 shooting)  and 15  rebounds as the  twice-to-beat Beermen dispatched  the Tropang Texters in hurry.
His supporting cast is just as formidable.
Santos averages 16.4 ppg,10.4 rpg and 2.9 apg; Cabagnot has  7.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 4.2 apg;  Lassiter  has 16.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 3.1 apg;  and  Ross has 11.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg and  6.5 apg.    
Without the towering Greg Slaughter, Ginebra will send Japeth  Aguilar (19.2 ppg,  8.0 rpg),  Joe  Devance,  Jervy Cruz   and  even Prince Caperal to slow down Fajardo.
Ginebra’s biggest strength will be its run-and-gun game anchored on LA Tenorio (14.8 ppg, 5.1 apg), Scottie Thompson (11.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg),  Sol Mercado (4.1 ppg) ,  and Mark  Caguioa (4.0 ppg).
Actually,  the Gin Kings dealt  one  of  only  three  losses  of  the  Beermen in the   elimination round, pulling off a 100-96 win  behind a combined 46-point output of Tenorio and Aguilar last Jan.28.  
Prediction:  San Miguel in six games.

Magnolia (8-3)  vs NLEX (6-5)
How  they get there:  Magnolia def. Globalport, 86-79;  NLEX def. Alaska Milk, 105-99 and  87-83.

Paul Lee (17.3 ppg), Ian Sangalang  (13.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Mark Barroca (10.4 ppg, 4.1 apg),  Marc Pingris  (6.2 ppg,  9.6 rpg),   Justin Melton (8.6 ppg),  Rafi  Reavis (4.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg)  and  Jio Jalalon (8.2 ppg) will carry the fight for the  Hotshots of  coach Chito Victolero.
Magnolia  defeated   NLEX, 105-94, in  their  elimination round game last  Jan. 14 enroute to an 8-3  win-loss record.
The injury, however, by Pingris could provide a good opportunity for NLEX to complete  an upset in their semifinal duel.
NLEX, which  reached the semis by eliminating Alaska Milk in  their quarterfinal duel, will  pin  its  hopes on  Larry Fonacier (19.6 ppg), Kiefer Ravena (15.4 ppg),  JR Quinahan (14.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg),Kevin Alas (11.4 ppg),  and Alex Mallari (9.0 ppg).
Prediction:  Magnolia in six.

*   *   *
If  you  have  time, come and watch  the  E.  Rodriguez  Jr. High School “Battle of the Generations” basketball and volleyball tournament starting  March 18 at  the Barangay N.S, Amoranto covered courts in Malaya St., Quezon City.
An  annual  undertaking of the  ERJHS Alumni Sports Club as part of  the  school’s  66th anniversary  celebrations,  the  Sunday-only competitions will pit  select players from  different batches  belonging to the 80s and 90s.
Quezon City  Rep. Bingbong  Crisologo and Councilor  Onyx Crisologo have  been invited  to watch the opening ceremony at 9 a.m.
Supporting the event is  Barangay N.S.Amoranto Chairman Von Yalong.     
Last month, the ASC  organized  the  first  “Learn and  Play Chess with  the Masters” 15-board  simultaneous  exhibition matches  by Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre and  chess clinic by the Meralco Chess Club.
The event was  also presented by the ERJHS Class 68 and the Roberto Castor  Rover Scouts.
NOTES --  Belated  happy 8th wedding anniversary to People’s Tonight sportswriter Elmer N. Manuel and his lovely wife Diane.

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