Three important games this final week of the elimination round will decide the remaining three spots in the quarterfinal playoffs with four teams still in the fight in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup.
Alaska, NLEX and Phoenix Fuel are tied for sixth to eighth places with similar 5-5 records, while Rain or Shine is at ninth place with 4-6 and is aiming to earn at least a playoff for the last quarterfinal ticket.
Phoenix, only in its second conference in the pro league, takes a shot at its first quarterfinal berth when it battles streaking Barangay Ginebra San Miguel tomorrow at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Then on Friday, Alaska and NLEX clash in what should be a fight-to-the-finish encounter with a quarterfinal slot at stake, before Rain or Shine fights for its own quarterfinal campaign when it tackles Star at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“That’s our focus now, our game on Friday,” said ROS mentor Yeng Guiao after suffering an 82-75 defeat to defending champion San Miguel Beer last Saturday.
Rain or Shine is trying to avoid missing the quarterfinal playoffs for the first time after nine straight Final Four stints, which began during the 2013 Governors’ Cup, with four final appearances punctuated by the team’s second PBA title in the last Commissioner’s Cup.
Already assured of spots in the next round are TNT KaTropa (9-1), Ginebra (7-2), SMB (7-3), Meralco (6-5) and Mahindra (6-5), with the Texters, Kings and Beermen armed with twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals.
Alaska has a chance for a playoff against Meralco for the No.4 spot as well as the fourth twice-to-beat advantage but it hinges on two things – its has to beat NLEX, and Phoenix has to win against Ginebra.
If that happens, it would create a four-way tie at 6-5 with Meralco, Mahindra, Phoenix and Alaska, with the Bolts and Aces, on the strength of higher quotients, disputing the No. 4 spot.
“We still have to win to make the playoffs,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after Alaska’s 103-87 win over Phoenix that extended its winning streak to three games last Saturday.
“But whatever happens, I think we have a chance against anybody (in the playoffs),” added Compton.
Rain or Shine can still claim an outright quarterfinal spot, but it also depends on several scenarios: It has to beat Star, Alaska loses to NLEX and Ginebra downs Phoenix to force a three-way tie at 5-6, which – if it happens – would give ROS a decisive quotient.