Scrambling down-the-wire finish
Only two of the eight quarterfinal slots in the PBA Governors’ Cup remain up for grabs going into the last three playing days of qualifying but the all-important pairings for the next round remain a big question mark.
Magnolia was the first to clinch a top 4 spot while the winner of the Phoenix-Blackwater showdown on Nov. 4 are assured of the fourth berth that will likewise enjoy a twice-to-win bonus in the quarterfinals.
And three teams still have a shot at two of the last four qualifying berths that need to beat their rivals to advance to the semifinals. There will be a playoff for teams tying for No. 8 with all other deadlocks decided by the PBA quotient system.
The Hotshots grabbed the solo lead with an 8-2 win-loss record by blasting the TNT KaTropa, 116-103, Friday. The Fuel Masters and the Elite will also be gunning for their eighth win when they clash after improving to 7-3 with victories over Rain or Shine (103-97) and Columbian Dyip (120-99), respectively.
Barangay Ginebra (8-2) and Alaska (8-3) also secured top 4 positions after winning on Sunday.
Alaska got past also-ran NorthPort (2-9), 95-85, while Ginebra survived Magnolia, 93-86. The Kings will eye top seeding against the KaTropa on Nov. 4 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With San Miguel Beer at 6-4, after downing Rain or Shine on Saturday, 109-97, there is no more possibility of a horrible finish by Ginebra and Alaska that could result in a four-way tie among the Beermen, the loser of the Blackwater-Phoenix duel, the Kings and the Aces.
The rare deadlock could’ve meant the Gins will be ranked No. 3 under the tie-break rules due to their earlier victories over the Beermen, Aces and the Fuel Masters. The Aces also will count on previous wins over the Beermen, the Elite and the Fuel Masters to land fourth.
The PBA quarterfinal pairings will pit the top qualifier against No. 8, No. 2 against No. 7, No. 3 against No. 6 and No. 4 against No. 5.
Thanks to a 116-110 conquest of Alaska also Friday, NLEX firmed up its hold of No. 7 at 5-5, but the Road Warriors still have to beat Rain or Shine (2-8) to advance without complication. TNT and Meralco both need to win their final games against Ginebra and SMB, respectively, to keep their tie for eight at 4-6.
With closing victories, they can even forge a three-way tie with NLEX if the Road Warriors lose to the Elasto Painters.
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