Before the start of the Philippine Cup Finals, I wrote that I do not expect the finals to do well at the turnstiles because Ginebra, the crowd’s favorite, is not one of the finalists and that the two contenders for the crown are not evenly matched, San Miguel Beer on paper being much superior than Alaska. I almost got raw eggs splattered on my face when Alaska stretched the series to seven games, almost winning Game 7 on the last-second shot of Alaska’s top 3-point sharpshooter JV Casio from beyond the arc.
I will risk ending up with raw eggs dripping down my face by making more or less the same bold predictions for the Commissioner’s Cup Finals which is about to start. The series will not do well at the turnstiles because once again Ginebra is not in the Finals and because the contenders are not evenly matched, Talk ‘N Text being much superior than Rain or Shine.
The imports are likely to offset each other. But TNT has a big edge when it comes to the locals. Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jay Washington, Larry Fonacier, Kevin Alas, and Kelly Williams, if he is well, make up a formidable scoring machine. Maybe RoS Coach Yeng Guiao will assign his best defensive man Gabe Norwood against Ranidel and either tenacious guard TY Tang or Basketball Tutor Chris Tiu against Jayson. Beau Belga and JR Quinahan will take turns guarding Ivan Johnson. But Yeng does not have any more outstanding defensive men to neutralize Washington, Alas, Fonacier, and Williams.
RoS’ Yeng can be sure of only Paul Lee and Jeff Chan piling up the points. TNT Coach Jong Uichico will probably assign Fonacier against Lee and Ranidel against Chan. Washington, who did well defending against Purefoods’ Denzel Bowles, will probably take on Wayne Chism.
RoS will also be at a disadvantage in another way. Beau Belga will not be able to play his usual brand of game as the referees are expected to be watching him closely and will be quick to blow their whistles on any contact, mild or hard, initiated by Beau. If the series gets very physical, and the matter is elevated to the Office of the Commissioner, RoS will most likely end up at the short end of things. The Commissioner has been hard on Yeng Guiao and Beau Belga. Suspension of Yeng and Beau for one game will not be far-fetched.
I predict that the series will not go seven games. Most probably 4-1. The way Jayson and Ranidel performed during the Talk ‘N Test-Purefoods series, TNT could even sweep the series.