Teams that will have an extended stay inside the bubble are bracing for intensity to pick up as the playoff basketball makes its way following a grueling elimination round schedule.

And if thrilling games and low-scoring affairs during the 32-day elims that saw a short stoppage and grueling quadrupleheaders were an indication, the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup could feature exciting matchups even if the top four teams carry a twice-to-beat advantage.

Here’s a preview of what could PBA fans expect once quarterfinal action tips off on Friday at Smart Clark Giga City.

#1 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel vs #8 Rain or Shine

Stanley Pringle of Barangay Ginebra drives to the basket against Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga of Rain or Shine during their game on Oct. 27. (PBA Images)

Some can say that Rain or Shine holds the psychological edge over Ginebra, especially with the way it pulled off an 85-82 overtime victory last Oct. 27 courtesy of a game-tying three by Rey Nambatac in regulation and clutch baskets by Beau Belga in the extension.

But the Elasto Painters went 2-4 since that victory while blowing an opportunity to clinch the twice-to-beat in a loss to the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters at the end of the elims.

Ginebra had a tipsy-turvy campaign by winning the first four games, lost the next two before going 4-1 in the latter half of the elims. That should make coach Tim Cone’s wards go into the quarters with a confident approach.

Stanley Pringle, Scottie Thompson and even to some extent Aljon Mariano and Prince Caperal were Ginebra’s most consistent performers while going into the playoffs with Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio almost back in form.

Rain or Shine’s strength could be on its ability to rely on every player to deliver on the offensive which could coach Caloy Garcia’s team an unpredictable bunch.

#2 Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters vs #7 Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok

Brian Heruela of Phoenix shoots the ball during their game against Magnolia on Oct. 23. (PBA Images)

Phoenix won its elims duel with Magnolia 91-84 last Oct. 23 behind a stunning 22-0 run in the fourth quarter, a result that helped aid the Fuel Masters to a twice-to-beat advantage.

The matchup could be a tough one to call, with Phoenix winning its final four games of the eliminations and Magnolia being the hottest team after posting six victories in a row.

Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins and Justin Chua have been coach Topex Robinson’s main threat but have gotten solid performances from guards RJ Jazul, Brian Heruela and RR Garcia during the streak.

Paul Lee, center Ian Sangalang and the pesky backcourt led by Mark Barroca, Chris Banchero and Jio Jalalon have been superb during the winning run highlighted by wins over Ginebra and TNT, and are also hungry to make up for their meltdown against Phoenix.

#3 TNT Tropang Giga vs #6 Alaska Aces

RR Pogoy of TNT was unstoppable against Alaska during the bubble opener on Oct. 11. (PBA Images)

Both teams provided a thrilling start to the bubble when TNT hacked out a 100-95 win behind a career-high 45 points from RR Pogoy.

But the game eventually became a prelude of how Alaska picks up victories in grindout fashion, something that may occur if the opportunity presents itself.

Pogoy and Ray Parks Jr. have become the Tropang Giga’s main source of offense even as captain Jayson Castro has focused more on stepping aside and playing a complimentary role. The play of Poy Erram may determine how far TNT can go in the playoffs.

Alaska’s survival rests on the consistent of Vic Manuel, timely outside shooting from Mike DiGregorio and Robbie Herndon, key contributions from Jvee Casio and Jeron Teng and early bubble form of rookie big man Barkley Ebona.

#4 San Miguel Beermen vs #5 Meralco Bolts

Alex Cabagnot of San Miguel takes a jumper over Chris Newsome of Meralco during their game on Oct. 28. (PBA Images)

The team that is aiming for a sixth straight Philippine Cup title barely claimed the twice-to-beat despite the absence of June Mar Fajardo in the bubble, the early exit of Terrence Romeo due to an injury and its core players dealing with ailments.

They play the Bolts, who they narrowly beat 89-82 in the elims but are determined to make something happen in the franchise’s first playoff appearance in the All-Filipino in quite some time.

But SMB’s quest to make it short and sweet will depend if Mo Tautuaa and Arwind Santos can continue their strong showing and for Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross to deliver when it matters like in past title runs.

Meralco’s bid for an upset will be led by Chris Newsome, who has shown his ability to make clutch plays, while a consistent Baser Amer, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi and Cliff Hodge plus an impact showing from rookie Aaron Black and veteran Reynel Hugnatan will be important for coach Norman Black.

Source: Manila Bulletin (