The 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals are set to get rolling on Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Though the cast is not yet complete, the league will begin the aforementioned stage featuring match-ups that will figure in a best-of-three series.
Third-seed Magnolia kicks off the wars at 2:00 p.m. against the no. 6 team Rain or Shine in another battle of the league’s defense-oriented squads.
It will be the first meeting of both teams in the playoffs since the 2019 Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series that went the distance. Back then, the Hotshots emerged victorious in overtime by way of a 63-60 decision.
That, however, was hounded by controversy due to the trey by Rome Dela Rosa late in regulation. League officials admitted it shouldn’t have counted as the shot clock had already expired with the ball still in his hands.
The Elasto Painters, though, are heading into Game One with confidence. They beat the Hotshots in their eliminations meeting last September 10.
Meanwhile, the fourth-seeded San Miguel Beer will take on the no. 5 NorthPort at 4:35 PM in a clash bannered by two of the league’s giants.
Reigning six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter will collide anew as another chapter of their storied rivalry will be written.
The series would also mark yet another playoff battle between CJ Perez and Robert Bolick, both of whom are among the top five scorers of the tilt.
The Beermen and the Batang Pier last met each other in a quarterfinal setting in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup. The former overcame the latter’s twice-to-beat advantage and eventually ruled the mid-season conference.
There’s definitely no shortage of motivation for NorthPort, as it is also keen to avenge its 86-88 loss to SMB last July 25. 40-year-old Arwind Santos sank the game-winning jumper with 1.2 seconds left.
The quarterfinal cast is not yet final, though. Reigning champions Ginebra and Phoenix later will fight over the eighth and final spot at 4:35 PM.
It is ironic, to say the least, that the last quarterfinal ticket will be contested by the top two teams of last year’s Philippine Cup bubble in Clark.
The winner will then face the top-seeded TNT Tropang Giga, who carry a twice-to-beat advantage.