by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Magnolia vs NLEX
7 p.m. – NorthPort vs Ginebra
The PBA returns to serious business following a fun-filled All-Star Weekend as the quarterfinal cast could be completed in the final doubleheader of the eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX and the Stanley Pringle-led NorthPort hold their respective quarterfinal fortunes as they face separate rivals while Alaska will play the role of cheerleaders for Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in hopes of staying alive.
Magnolia and NLEX square off in the 4:30 p.m. opener before Ginebra lock horns with NorthPort at 7 p.m.
Both NLEX and NorthPort will secure the final two quarterfinal berths with victories but a loss by at least one of them assures Alaska of a playoff for the No. 8 spot.
Alaska will face either NorthPort or NLEX depending on the results at the conclusion of the twinbill.
NLEX and NorthPort hold identical 4-6 slates while Alaska finished the elims at 4-7. Columbian is out of contention despite a similar 4-7 record due to an inferior quotient.
A win could lead to a better seeding for NLEX as the match with Magnolia could also decide the No. 6 seed and a spot in the best-of-three quarters against No. 3 Ginebra.
Magnolia totes an even 5-5 slate.
Teams ranked third to sixth will play a crossover best-of-three affair while the seventh and eighth placers need to beat No. 1 and No. 2 teams twice to reach the semis.
NorthPort could only finish as good as seventh even if a three-way tie with NLEX and Magnolia.
Meanwhile, the match against NorthPort will be no-bearing for Ginebra though coach Tim Cone would like to see his team enter the playoffs on a winning note.
Ginebra has won its last four to carry a 7-3 record.