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Modest goal

TNT tries to boost ‘top six’ bid in crucial duel vs Phoenix; Ginebra tries to end KIA’s misery
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:07 AM February 07, 2018

Coach Nash Racela of TNT KaTropa has a very modest objective in the elimination round of the PBA Philippine Cup.

“Our target is to finish in the top six and make sure that we’re not at a disadvantage [in the quarterfinals],” he said as his fourth-running Texters try to firm up their position heading into the round’s homestretch at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

“If we get a shot at finishing in the top two, then we will definitely go for it,” he added as the race for those berths, as the elimination round heads into its final three weeks, is centered among three teams at the moment.

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Tournament format calls for Nos. 1 and 2 to draw the eighth- and seventh-seeded squads, respectively, needing to win just once in the first round to advance to the Final Four.

That looks like a tall order for teams that would face three-time defending champion San Miguel Beer, Magnolia or Alaska. The Beermen, leading the way with a 6-1 record, are possibly two wins away from nailing a win-once advantage.

The Texters are a full two games behind San Miguel and 1.5 games behind joint second placers the Gin Kings and the red-hot Aces. And TNT won’t be facing the top three teams anymore, taking away its chance to pull the top squads down.

To creep even closer, they must take care of dangerous Phoenix Petroleum in the 4:30 p.m. game Wednesday and hope that the three teams ahead of them lose some games.

Finishing at the third to sixth spots would mean landing in a best-of-three series, a far better alternative than needing to win twice against the top seeds—which is where coach Louie Alas of Phoenix could fall depending on the result of this virtually make-or-break duel for his hard-fighting Fuel Masters.

Phoenix is in a four-way tie for sixth going into this game at 3-4. Another defeat would put them on shaky ground.

Barangay Ginebra, the back-to-back Governors’ Cup champion, is also in the same boat as Phoenix, but the Gin Kings are in for a relatively easier time in the 7 p.m. contest in their collision with lowly KIA Picanto.

The Kings will be coming off a loss to NLEX last Saturday but are expected to steamroll their way past the Picanto and eliminate KIA from further contention formally.

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TAGS: Nash Racela, PBA Philippine Cup, TNT KaTropa
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