Battle for top 2 ends here
The script couldn’t have been written better than this one.
The top two places in the playoffs of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup will be decided when the final horn of the elimination round sounds on Friday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao as sister teams San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and idle Star hog the limelight.
A critical twinbill pitting the Beermen against GlobalPort and the Gin Kings versus Mahindra will be played, with the Hotshots’ twice-to-beat fortunes hanging by a thread even though the last day of classification starts with Star on top of the heap.
San Miguel battles the Batang Pier in the 4:15 p.m. contest and Ginebra slugs it out with the Floodbuster with the finalists in the Philippine Cup bagging the quarterfinal bonus with victories while relegating the Hotshots into a much tougher best-of-three series as No. 3.
Ginebra will emerge as the No. 1 team with a win, while San Miguel will nab second seeding with a victory of its own.
Both the Gin Kings and the Beermen will actually tie the Hotshots at 9-2, but Star lost to both squads in the elimination round and will end up having the inferior quotient in the tiebreaker.
And Ginebra coach Tim Cone is making it no secret that they’re going to go for it—and that they’re not about to give the Hotshots a free ride.
“Needless to say, we really want that top seed,” Cone said. “[But] that doesn’t mean that just because we want it, we’re going to get it. You’re never given anything in our league. You have to earn it, and we’ll have to earn it with our execution and hard work.
“Nothing comes easy in the PBA,” he said.
Finishing 1-2 will do a lot of good, as it could mean an extended rest while they await their quarterfinal foes.
And in a playoff format this long, that will come in handy.
GlobalPort is playing a lot better with its retooled lineup and a new import in Justin Harper, and coach Franz Pumaren knows how critical this outing is in the Batang Pier’s own drive to make the playoffs.
An upset would give GlobalPort No. 6 seeding and put them in a best-of-three series against No. 3, while a loss would see the Batang Pier clashing with Phoenix Petroleum in a KO match for No. 8 for the right to play the No. 1 team, which it will then need to beat two straight times to advance.
A GlobalPort victory would also make defending champion Rain or Shine the seventh seed.
“For us to compete, we need to play our best game. Collective effort will be the key to our success,” Pumaren said.
Victories by Ginebra and San Miguel would not only make Star No. 3 but it would also make Alaska the No. 7 seed—and San Miguel’s quarterfinal foe.