All teams except for one are engaged in separate races as slots in the eight-team playoffs of the PBA Philippine Cup remain up for grabs with elimination round entering its final month.
Defending champion San Miguel, Magnolia and Alaska are all but assured of making the quarters with six wins apiece as of Sunday, but are also eyeing the twice-to-beat incentives given to the top two teams after the elims.
Rain or Shine and TNT KaTropa hold similar 4-3 records while NLEX, Phoenix, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and GlobalPort have 3-4 marks.
These teams could either move up or fall under in one swoop with one crucial result.
Meralco and Blackwater, in a share of 10th and 11th at 2-5, are in danger of seeing their quarterfinal hopes disappear with another defeat while 1-6 Kia appears to be sure of the first team to suffer an early exit in the season-opening tournament.
The final four weeks of the elims will see if some teams can benefit from their strength of schedule and the others overcoming the tough task of taking on fancied rivals.
San Miguel, which regained the solo lead at 6-1 following Sunday’s 77-76 win over Magnolia at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, faces Blackwater on Feb. 9, Alaska on Feb. 17, Kia on Feb. 23 and Rain or Shine on Feb. 28.
After its five-game winning streak was snapped and dropped to a tie with Alaska for second at 6-2, Magnolia meets Rain or Shine on Feb. 10, GlobalPort on Feb. 16 and Meralco on Feb. 24.
Alaska, which has risen to contention after a 0-2 start, meets NLEX on Feb. 11, San Miguel on Feb. 17, and Rain or Shine on Feb. 23.
Rain or Shine’s resolve will be tested despite rumors that swirled of seeing Jericho Cruz, Raymond Almazan and Beau Belga, with matches against San Miguel on Feb. 28 and Ginebra on March 2 as litmus tests for the Caloy Garcia-coached squad.
Ginebra hopes to regain the old form that won the Governors’ Cup crown last year Kia on Wednesday, TNT on Feb. 11, Meralco on Feb. 18 and the March 2 tussle with Rain or Shine.