THE 2020 PBA Philippine Cup is down to two teams with Barangay Ginebra clashing with TNT for the title inside the Smart Clark Giga City bubble.
The Gin Kings and the Tropang Giga clash for all the marbles following grueling campaign in the eliminations and in the playoffs.
Ginebra took the top seeding in the playoffs after an 8-3 win-loss record in the elimination round, easing past Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals before getting dragged to a fifth and final game by Meralco in the semifinals.
TNT placed third on a 7-4 slate, eliminating Alaska in the round of eight before staving off a bubble exit at the semifinal stage, winning two do-or-die matches to eliminate Phoenix in five games.
As Ginebra and TNT prepare for the start of the showdown on Sunday, let’s take a look at the match-ups to watch in the championship series.
LA TENORIO vs. JAYSON CASTRO
The match-up in the point guard position will definitely be a classic as they battle in the championship for the first time since they became teammates with Gilas Pilipinas in the 2014 Fiba World Cup.
Tenorio bucked a slow start to the PBA bubble with fine play late in the conference, averaging 8.35 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.06 assists.
Meanwhile, Castro remains a steadying presence for the Tropang Giga in the bubble with averages of 16.47 points, 3.73 rebounds, 4.93 assists, and 1.67 steals.
Being veterans in the squad, the question at times is their health. Although Tenorio has still not missed a game in his PBA career, he admitted being bothered during the bubble by the laparoscopic appendectory he had in the offseason. Castro also has his injury issues with TNT opting to rest the two-time best guard of Asia late in the eliminations due to his calf injury.
JAPETH AGUILAR vs. POY ERRAM
It will be a battle of bigs with contrasting styles.
Like Tenorio, Aguilar also had to pick his rhythm up while inside the bubble and it led to the athletic big man producing averages of 14.24 points, 7.94 rebounds, and 1.47 blocks.
A force inside with a decent touch from the outside, Erram had 11.18 points and 8.71 rebounds per outing although the TNT big man showed inconsistent play during the semifinal series against Phoenix Super LPG.
PRINCE CAPERAL vs. TROY ROSARIO
Both players will have a chip on their shoulders entering the PBA finals series in the bubble.
A third-string big man in past championship series for the Gin Kings, Caperal will definitely be eager to contribute more in this year’s title bid following an elimination and playoff performance that saw the ex-Arellano standout average 9.47 points, 3.76 rebounds, and a 45 percent output from three-point range.
Rosario is averaging 10.47 points and 7.82 rebounds in the season, but his numbers have slipped in the playoffs. The Gilas Pilipinas regular is eyeing for a big bounce back in the matches that matter for the Tropang Giga.
SCOTTIE THOMPSON vs. RR POGOY
Two young stars and former Gilas teammates will be up against each other in this finals series.
Thompson made the headlines with his game-winning, series-ending triple in Game Five of the semifinals against Meralco, but even before that heroics, he has been producing for the Kings. The former Perpetual Help standout leads Ginebra in rebounding in the bubble season with 8.82 while also averaging 11.65 points, and is even listing double-double numbers over the course of the campaign which can also be expected in the championship series.
Pogoy has proven that he can light up the scoreboard, exploding for 45 points in the first game of the bubble. He remains a huge threat on offense for the Tropa with averages of 18.06 points, 5.76 rebounds, and 2.35 assists, but don’t forget about his ability to defend as the Far Eastern University product had 1.76 steals per outing. As the primary defender of TNT, expect Pogoy to also guard other Ginebra players in the series.
STANLEY PRINGLE vs. BOBBY RAY PARKS
Hands down, the matchup to watch in the championship series as the fortunes of their team will greatly depend on how well they will play in the best-of-seven affair.
Pringle and Parks have been on the front in their respective teams’ campaign in the bubble, putting up MVP-like numbers heading into the championship showdown.
From the start of the bubble, Pringle, acquired in a trade from NorthPort last year, has been the most consistent performer for the Kings, averaging 18.12 points, 6.29 rebounds, and 3.41 assists for the season. Ginebra topped the elimination round and a big part of it was Pringle, with an improved outside shot and brilliant plays to close games for the Gin Kings.
The same can be said for Parks, who has produced even better numbers than Pringle in his sophomore year in the PBA.
The TNT star, who was obtained in a deal with Blackwater last year, is ahead in the statistical points race after averages of 22.5 points, 8.06 rebounds, 3.06 assists, and 1.31 steals. His shooting has become even more deadly with his 50.22 percent field goal shooting including a 46.49 percent clip from threes that led to outstanding scoring performances in the PBA bubble for the Tropang Giga.