IT has been four months since the PBA shut down the games of the Philippine Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The elimination round was supposed to end May 16, and a champion may have been named at this time in the first conference of the 2020 season.
In this piece, SPIN.ph looks at the possible story lines that would have taken shape had the Philippine Cup not been postponed.
Japeth’s breakout conference
The Finals MVP performance of Japeth Aguilar in the Governors’ Cup could have led started a momentum for the Barangay Ginebra big man. And with Greg Slaughter deciding to go on a sabbatical, Aguilar would have had a lead role in the Gin Kings’ campaign that could have even put him in the running for a Best Player of the Conference award.
No June Mar, no problem for SMB
As seen in the first game of the 2020 PBA season, the Beermen won over Magnolia without six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo after suffering an injury during the preseason.
The Beermen would have been fine without him, with Mo Tautuaa stepping up in Fajardo’s absence, and usual suspects Terrence Romeo, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross conspiring for San Miguel.
Had the Philippine Cup pushed through, Calvin Abueva would have had completed the requirements set by the PBA for the lifting of the suspension, and he would have played his first game back with Phoenix Super LPG.
The Fuel Masters badly need a major boost with the team noticeably struggling without Abueva.
Erram’s impact with TNT
The KaTropa would have had a major impact in the Philippine Cup with Erram filling up the center spot. With a steady big man now in the line-up, TNT could have also had a stellar Philippine Cup campaign with Ray Parks getting the benefit of time to get used to the KaTropa system, and Jayson Castro rejuvenated by a lengthy rest in the offseason.
The Aces had a splendid offseason prior to the 2020 campaign, and the team could have had sustained that form had the Philippine Cup pushed through. Head coach Jeff Cariaso appeared to have the pieces of a steady run in the conference with a young core built around Vic Manuel.
A vastly-improved Batang Pier squad
Coming off a Governors’ Cup run crowned by an upset of top-seed NLEX in the quarterfinals, NorthPort could have carried that momentum into the Philippine Cup. Governors’ Cup BPC Christian Standhardinger could be getting the tag as the premier big man of the league with Fajardo out, and Sean Anthony sustaining his 2019 season performance for the Batang Pier that have also become deeper during the offseason. An MVP season for C-Stan and a deep playoff run for NorthPort? Very much possible.
Magnolia in the thick of the title race
The Hotshots had a relatively quiet preseason in 2020, but still made an upgrade. The acquisition of Jackson Corpuz made Magnolia an even stronger team defensively, the personality that head coach Chito Victolero wants in his squad. Magnolia would have also use PJ Simon’s retirement as a rallying point.
Adams, Ayonayon in early race for ROY
Two rookies in Roosevelt Adams and Mike Ayonayon would have created an immediate effect with their respective teams had the conference pushed through.
Columbian would have been a better team with another scoring presence in Adams, who could've formed a formidable 1-2 punch for the Dyip with CJ Perez.
Meanwhile, NLEX coach Yeng Guiao has been very impressed with Ayonayon’s showing in practices, and his MPBL experience with the San Juan Knights would have made for a seamless adjustment to the PBA ranks.