MANILA, Philippines – Unlike the past conferences where San Miguel was almost always the favorite to win the championship, the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup is up for grabs, said Beermen's Chris Ross.
For Ross – whose Beermen landed at 6th place heading into the quarterfinals despite a 97-101 loss to the Magnolia Hotshots on Saturday, July 7 – any of the remaining 8 teams are capable of taking home the coveted championship.
"Rain or Shine's playing well, Alaska's playing well, Ginebra's playing well, so this is kind of a wide-open race now. Any team right now in the playoffs can win, for me," said Ross.
"Magnolia just got Wayne (Chism) and Wayne's a really good import. Global(Port) can beat anyone at any given day so to me it's a wide-open race."
As the elimination round wrapped up, Rain or Shine (1st) and Alaska (2nd) each boasts a twice-to-beat advantage when they square off against GlobalPort (8th) and Magnolia (7th), respectively.
On the other two series – which will be both best-of-3 duels – TNT (3rd) clashes with San Miguel (6th) in a rematch of last year's finals of the mid-season conference while Meralco (4th) locks horns with Barangay Ginebra (5th) in a finals rematch of the Governor's Cup last season.
"It should be an exciting playoff race – one through 8. Anyone has a chance to win in the finals."
As the Beermen shift their focus on their playoff series against the KaTropa, Ross is expecting nothing less than a "war," given the teams' history.
San Miguel defeated TNT in 6 games to win the Commissioner's Cup last year and then earlier this conference, the Beermen eked out a 99-94 triumph over the KaTropa in a scuffle-marred game that saw 4 players ejected.
"It's going to be a war. I know they were hoping that they face us sometime in the playoffs but I know it's gonna be a battle," Ross said.
"There's many rivalries in the PBA and right now, they are one of our rivals and for obvious reasons. We'll be ready. Looking forward to a hard-fought series."
The best-of-3 bout will begin on Monday, July 9, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.