CEBUANO hoops fans have lauded the brand-new “play-in” games that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has implemented into its playoff format that has led to the much-anticipated match-up between LeBron James and the reigning NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers and Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Thursday morning (PH time).
With the play-in games, the seventh- and eighth-place teams in each conference play each other and the winner claims the seventh seed. The loser of that game plays the winner of the 9th-seed versus 10th-seed game. The winner of that game becomes the eighth seed.
To give the teams that had a better record during the regular season an advantage, teams 7 and 8 need to win just one play-in game to advance and teams 9-10 need to win two games.
The format, which has become a hot-button topic among NBA owners, players and analysts, was welcomed by Cebuano hoops fans, who said this adds a new layer of excitement to the NBA playoffs.
“It adds flavor to the game,” said former University of San Carlos Warriors great, Paul Norman Joven. “It favors the low market teams, giving them the chance to play for the title, especially in the Western Conference, where for many years, the difference between seeds has been just one game.”
Talisay City Aquastars point guard Darrell Shane Menina thinks the play-in games are great since it gives more teams a shot at making the playoffs.
“The play-in is great as it gives other teams a chance. It’s a good format,” said the prolific point guard.
Popoy Navarro, host of the weekly web show “Milo Bida BEST” and son of the late great Cebuano sportsman Rico Navarro, added that the new format has improved the quality of games for much longer.
“I think it’s really good for us fans. We can see it in the increase of the game quality the past month. It’s giving the teams on the playoff bubble a reason to give a crap during this time of the year, whereas before they didn’t care what happened,” shared Navarro.
ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu assistant coach Jerry Abuyabor, though, said the format can prove disastrous for teams in the seventh spot, who could tumble out of the playoffs altogether if they lose two straight games.
“The powerhouse teams definitely won’t like it,” said Abuyabor. “It sounds crazy playing 72 games in the regular season then come playoffs, with just two losses, you’re out.”
Most Cebuano fans are definitely excited to witness the match-up between the Lakers and the Warriors. Fans of both teams are expected to get riled up come Thursday morning.
“It will be a highly anticipated match-up for the Filipino fans. Trash talk is okay. We’re all friends right after the match,” said KCS-Mandaue assistant coach Jabby Bautista. (JNP)