Manila Clasico on Christmas Day 2017 at the world’s biggest indoor arena—that’s the biggest treat that awaits basketball fans before the year ends when the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel go up against their perennial rival Star Hotshots.
December 25 will see the Gin Kings opening their 2017-2018 Philippine Cup campaign to start the PBA’s 43rd season.
It will be played at the humongous Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, where the Gin Kings broke PBA attendance records last month to cap their equally record-breaking feat of retaining their Governors’ Cup crown they first won last year. That Game 7 Finals victory against the Meralco Bolts on Oct. 27 drew 54,086 fans, shattering the attendance record of 53,642 established two days earlier in Game 6 of the Finals at the massive Iglesia ni Cristo-owned arena in Bulacan.
It will be the third straight season that Ginebra and Star will square off on Christmas Day. Last year, the Gin Kings defeated the Hotshots, 86-79, also at the Philippine Arena, with Japeth Aguilar exploding for 32 points.
In 2015, the Gin Kings also prevailed over the Hotshots in an overtime thriller, 92-89, with LA Tenorio nailing the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Ginebra-Star game on Dec. 25 was the only calendared event released by the PBA with the rest of the schedule for the 2017-2018 Philippine Cup that is tentatively set to begin on Dec. 17 still up in the air.
League officials meeting in Los Angeles, California have confirmed though that the 43rd PBA season will have the same format as the previous three-conference set-up. All three tournaments—the Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup, and Governors’ Cup—will feature a single-round-robin elimination phase, with the best eight teams advancing to the playoffs. This ensures that each team will play 33 games in the regular season, excluding the playoffs.
In the Philippine Cup and in the Commissioner’s Cup, the top two teams after the elimination round gain a twice-to-beat advantage against the seventh and eight seeds in the quarterfinals. The four teams in the middle then figure in a best-of-three quarterfinals series.
In the Governors Cup, the Top 4 will all gain a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against the fifth to eighth seeds, with No. 1 going up against No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No.3 vs. No. 6, and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
The PBA Board of Governors also agreed to keep at 6-foot-10 the height ceiling for the Governors Cup imports and at 6-foot-5 the height limit for the Commissioner’s Cup reinforcements.
This means that familiar high-caliber imports like Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee, San Miguel’s Charles Rhodes, Star’s Ricardo Ratliffe, Meralco’s Allen Durham, Blackwater’s Henry Walker, and Phoenix’s Eugene Phelps are likely to return again in the coming season.