So much has been said about the Star Hotshots-Barangay Ginebra San Miguel clash and everything in between, that the other semifinal match between the San Miguel Beermen and TNT KaTropa tends to get dismissed for the most part.
Tonight, TNT and SMB will try to secure the deciding 3-2 advantage in one of the highly competitive yet less-heralded matchups in PBA playoff history. Ginebra and Star have undoubtedly the biggest fan bases in Philippine basketball, but are we doing a disservice to the Beermen and the KaTropa by not paying them much attention?
Especially with the way the hotly contested affair has been wildly unfolding...
Best of the best
Unlike its well-attended semifinals counterpart, the Beermen-KaTropa head-to-head has been mostly a display of beautiful basketball, with better numbers and percentages across the board. If not for the Game 1 blowout, this series could well serve as the validation for these two teams having the cream of the crop in terms of local talent.
Aside from the nightly notable that is June Mar Fajardo (19.5 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 2.2 BPG), a diamond in the rough from the national team pool is showing off a more polished game in this rivalry: rookie RR Pogoy, who exploded for 22 points (6-11 3PM) in Game 3. Even ex-Gilas stalwarts Troy Rosario and Mo Tautuaa are turning heads with their elevated level of play. The only thing left to do is give us more AVO!
Old heads renaissance
A fact typified by 35-year-old Kelly Williams opening the affair with 24 points. His batchmates Ranidel de Ocampo (TNT) and Gabby Espinas (SMB) may appear a step slower but are making their case as solid contributors. Don't look now; Larry Fonacier, at 34, seemed to have rediscovered his sweet stroke in Game 4, where he finished with a team-high fifteen points on top of three three-pointers. On the other hand, Arwind is being Arwind.
Point guard marquee
Who better to stack up to the best point guard in Asia than the top interchangeable backcourt in the PBA? The dynamic duo of Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross is proving to be more than a handful on the court for the magnificent blur that is Jayson Castro. Good thing Pogoy is steadily establishing himself as Castro's rightful TNT running mate in the years to come.
Lights out from rainbow territory
The earlier outings bear similarity to the first four games of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The team that hit more threes took the game—remember when GSW gained that [traumatic] 3-1 series lead? Except for Game 3 (both the Beermen and the KaTropa made seven), the outcomes of this semis matchup has been about which squad is rolling from deep.