The race for both the quarterfinals and the twice-to-beat remain too close to call as the elimination round of the PBA Philippine Cup is down to its final three days.
Only two teams — Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT with identical 7-3 records — are currently assured of extending its stay in the PBA bubble after securing the quarterfinals berth, leaving seven other teams in the hunt to avoid being evicted from Smart Clark Giga City.
NLEX’s recent surge has made the race more complicated as teams initially thought to have virtually clinched the quarters are suddenly staring at a distant possibility of literally heading for home.
That doesn’t mean it could spell trouble for Phoenix (6-3), defending champion San Miguel Beer (6-4), Meralco (6-4), Alaska (6-4) and Magnolia (6-4) are in danger since some have the luxury of holding the fate of their playoff fortunes.
Rain or Shine (5-4) is a game back of NLEX (4-5) and any slip-up by the Elasto Painters may open the door for the Road Warriors.
Ginebra and TNT have an inside track of a twice-to-beat advantage given to the top four teams, while the aforementioned teams with six wins have strong chances of having that important bonus.
Here’s the situation of all nine teams vying for better seedings after Nov. 11.
BARANGAY GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL (7-3)
The Kings need to beat the struggling Terrafirma Dyip on Monday to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. Their first crack at the bonus ended in disappointment, falling 81-66 to the Beermen Sunday night.
TNT TROPANG GIGA (7-3)
TNT battles Rain or Shine to conclude the elims on Tuesday with a chance to gain the twice-to-beat, but a loss may put the Tropang Giga in a precarious situation of dropping out of the top four in case ties are determined through a quotient system.
PHOENIX SUPER LPG FUEL MASTERS (6-3)
The Fuel Masters can clinch a quarters spot either against the lowly Blackwater Elite on Monday or the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Wednesday, but sweeping both games may give them a spot in the top four.
SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN (6-4)
SMB revived its chances of getting the twice-to-beat going into its game against NorthPort on Tuesday. But the Beermen, who had a 16-point win against Magnolia in March and a shock 34-point loss to NLEX last Friday, is in a tricky situation if the quotient is used.
MERALCO BOLTS (6-4)
The Bolts are closing in on their first quarterfinal berth in the Philippine Cup in five years, but are also in contention for the twice-to-beat which could be gained with a win over the Batang Pier on Wednesday. Meralco’s win over the teams in the middle of the pack could also play out in the end.
MAGNOLIA HOTSHOTS (6-4)
The hottest team in the league with five consecutive victories needs one win to cement its place in the quarterfinals, but could be behind in the tiebreaker due to earlier losses to the likes of Alaska and Meralco, and the 94-78 defeat to SMB held prior to the suspension of the 45th season.
RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO PAINTERS (5-4)
ROS wraps up the elims with tough assignments against TNT and Phoenix in back-to-back days, making its playoff and twice-to-beat ambitions tougher. The Elasto Painters have lost four of the last five games after a 3-0 start marred by a 20-point defeat to NLEX, a result that may be used in the event of a tiebreaker scenario.
NLEX ROAD WARRORS (4-5)
Winners of three straight, NLEX can’t afford to split its remaining two outings against Alaska Monday and Terrafirma Wednesday if it wants to sneak in a quarters berth without the worry of having to be in a playoff for the eighth and final spot. One loss, however, won’t mean the end for NLEX but it will officially send Phoenix, SMB, Meralco, Magnolia into quarters.