Mad scramble on two battle fronts
An interesting battle on two fronts will mark the last 12 playing days of the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination round.
Four teams are seeking the coveted top two slots while defending champion San Miguel Beer and five others are locked in a tight scramble to complete the eight-team cast that will advance to the quarterfinal phase.
By surviving a monumental upset bid from doormat Blackwater last week, Rain or Shine raised its leading record to 7-1, a win ahead of TNT KaTropa, which has one more victory than Alaska’s 5-1 mark.
Meralco also stayed in the race for one of the two leading positions that will enjoy a twice-to-beat bonus in the next round after improving to 5-2 with an overtime decision of Phoenix Petroleum on Friday after Rain or Shine had finally pinned an eighth loss in nine games on Blackwater with a 104-94 decision.
The Beermen, languishing in a 0-3 hole when the PBA’s second conference resumed after the All-Star break, ended their surprising, unexpected slump with three victories that tied them for fifth place with the Magnolia Hotshots, who absorbed the second of their last two losses (86-84) from Blackwater courtesy of a game-ending dunk by import Henry Walker.
Also with three wins but with four losses is GlobalPort while Phoenix is at 3-5. Columbian Dyip has improved to 4-5 after beating Phoenix on Sunday, 117-105.
Barangay Ginebra nailed only a second win in seven games to remain in quarterfinal contention by beating NLEX, 93-85, in Legazpi City in Albay over the weekend.
The target for SMB and Co. is six wins to finish either fifth or sixth and secure a best-of-three slot in the quarterfinals against either the No. 3 and No. 4 qualifiers. Five wins may be enough for the last two qualifiers but both will be facing the tough task of hurdling twice the top two finishers in the quarterfinals to advance.
All ties will be decided by the PBA quotient system except for the deadlock for No. 8 which will require a playoff.
While SMB has the lightest schedule among the six teams gunning for the last four quarterfinal slots, Magnolia will be virtually walking in a mine field to survive. After TNT and Magnolia, SMB will have light foes in GlobalPort, NLEX and Blackwater. On the other hand, even If Magnolia hurdles SMB, it would still tackle TNT, Alaska, NLEX and Ginebra.
It would also be interesting how the Gin Kings try to stay alive against Alaska, GlobalPort and Columbian Dyip in their remaining schedule.
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