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By Jason Webb

If the last elimination game is any indication of how exciting the playoffs are going to turn out, then people with pacemakers might be advised by doctors not to watch the games live. We’ve talked about the parity of the league all year and it was in full display in the elimination games last Wednesday and Friday. It is the first time in the 34 years of the league that both finalists (Alaska and Talk ‘N Text) in the previous conference failed to make it past the eliminations.

The quarterfinals will be a 3-game set. It may not be as bloody as a knockout game, but since it’s such a short series, conventional wisdom should hold true that Game 1 is the key.

STA. LUCIA versus BURGER KING (BK 96, SLR87 Sat March 28)

Fittingly, a matchup of the only teams that have kept their original imports.

S.ta Lucia survived their knockout game against Coke mainly through the effort of Anthony Johnson. Johnson had a sick line of 42 points, on 16 of 22 shooting adding 24 rebounds. In that game, Johnson got some help from Ryan Reyes and Bitoy Omolon. Again they will be key since they’re the best matchup for Gary David and Arwind Santos. But I believe the other important locals to show up for this series are veterans Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino. They had a taste of battling a big man when they faced Asi Taulava against Coke but they are going to face a more complete post presence in Shawn Daniels. A much improved rebounding team, the Realtors will need to clean up defensive boards against the Whoppers who thrive on offensive putbacks.

Always been regarded as an offense oriented team, what really jumps out with the Burger King squad is their defense. It’s been lost in the limelight because of the high scores they put up, but they are third in the league in defense. Yes, they give up a lot of points but the true measure of defense is opponents FG% where they rank third behind early semifinalists San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra. A team that takes questionable shots, it might come as a surprise why they top the league in two-point FG%. The simple explanation is that they get a ton of layups when they run the break and force turnovers. In their halfcourt set, Daniels needs to be aggressive early to put pressure on the defense of Aquino and Espino. He has to realize that SLR does not have much depth in terms of size and he’ll be able to bulldoze the rest of the Realtors after the two veterans.

Both teams are adept at their running game, with Burger King enjoying a slight edge. So what will likely be the tipping point for this series is which team will be able to execute on their halfcourt set without having to give up the tempo they’d like.


I’ll finally give Burger King the respect that they’ve been longing for. I respect what Sta. Lucia has done without their best local player but their lack of size might be too much to overcome in this series.

PUREFOODS vs. RAIN OR SHINE (PF 102, RoS 94 Mar 7) (RoS 110, PF 90 Mar 21)

Purefoods must still be on a high after disposing of Talk ‘N Text in a tough knockout game. But they only have one rest day to get back to earth and don their uniforms to face a young and energetic Rain or Shine squad.

Purefoods survived two overtimes without their import in that win but that also plays a big role for this new battle. Because of the huge minutes logged by their local superstars, it will be interesting to see how much energy they’ll have to start this series. Remember that Kerby Raymundo logged in over 48 minutes while James Yap totaled 37 minutes after admitting that he was only 60% in that game. Coach Ryan Gregorio will be hoping that his team built on depth will be able to overcome the weariness of some of his players.

Purefoods has shot poorly all conference averaging a league-worst 42% from the field. They’ll hope to find the same shooting touch they had against TNT when they hit 47% of their shots. If they can play like a team and have more assists than turnovers, this should bode well for the Giants.

Marquin Chandler is well rested after battling foul trouble in their last game but he’ll have to have a more positive approach than what we saw last Friday.

The team will also have to do a better job on the boards since they average three less rebounds than their opponents.

In a year of many firsts, Rain or Shine is looking for their very first semifinal appearance. Entering their second straight quarterfinal, the young RoS squad is hoping that they are a quick study of success after winning their very first elimination game in their history.

With a core of Sol Mercado, Gabe Norwood and JayR Reyes, maintaining their confidence will be key for a team fueled by youth.

Among the three, Norwood is the player that usually suffers huge drops in confidence. He’ll have to remain aggressive all game and be willing to take the outside shot.

Regarded as one of the more athletic teams in the league, it’s interesting to note that the Elasto Painters are third worst in the league in scoring off the break.

Purefoods will have enough bodies to throw at Lewis but expect RoS to run a lot of plays through him at the post to relax their young team. Three-point shooting is always key for a RoS victory because it helps open up lanes for their slashers and Lewis.

Rain or Shine will always have to deal with the idea that they are playing a team that is more experienced than them. In Purefoods, they face a team loaded with veterans while having one of the three best closers in the PBA in James Yap.

Turnovers will be a stat worth watching because it usually end up as an energy play. It might be a dunk by Norwood or a big three by James Yap, these plays really do wonders for both teams since they are both energy teams. Because of RoS’s youth and inexperience, those energy plays can either make them or break them.


Rain or Shine has the more effective import and has been the better team all year compared to Purefoods but there is no substitute for experience. I feel the game versus TNT showed character and it showed the Giants’ proving it can recover even if they lose the first game of the series. I’m just not as confident with RoS ability to do the same.

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