By Drei Christopher Villanueva
One team has already locked a spot in the top four and a guaranteed twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal round. Three other squads have already secured a berth in the quarterfinal round and are now looking to boost their campaign by staying in the top four. Four more teams are still knocking at the playoff door while a few more squads are trying to keep their flickering hopes alive.
The PBA Governors Cup remain a wide open field for all the 12 players who are trying to change their fortunes in the remaining games of the elimination round.
TNT booked one of the top four berths in the playoffs after picking up its eighth win in nine games at the expense of defending champion San Miguel Saturday. The Ka Tropa remained at the top of the team standings following their dominating performance against the Beermen, 105-85, in Batangas City.
This means coach Jong Uichico and his wards can now relax and take their last two games with ease after achieving their goal of reaching the top four. But for the multi-titled mentor, every game the Ka Tropa played this conference was beyond winning and losing.
“We just want to improve every game as a team. Every game is different. We have different mindset, different perspective, different approach every game. We just want to continue improving,” added Uichico.
The remaining three berths in the top four are tightly disputed by Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, Mahindra and Meralco.
The Gin Kings are currently in solo second spot with a 6-2 mark, just slightly better than the Enforcer and the Beermen, who are tied for third to fourth places with a 6-3 record.
Although the three teams are already assured of a quarterfinals berth, the Bolts, on the other hand, are still looking to punch their way to the next round. They were seconds away from joining the first four teams which made it there Sunday until a game-winning basket from Star’s import Joel Wright saved the Hotshots from outright elimination and derailed Meralco’s entry to the quarterfinal round.
Not only did the Hotshots play the spoiler’s role against the Bolts, coach Jason Webb’s troop was able to salvage its gasping campaign.
“I don’t know how much chances we have. It’s not really the most important thing right now. The most important thing right now is guys continue to believe on each other,” Webb said. “We’ve been given too many chances and we continued to fail, but today, we still got point one percent chance but that’s better than nothing.”
The Hotshots are battling elimination. They’ve won only their second game in nine matches to languish at 11th spot, but they can make it to the quarterfinal round via the backdoor if ever they could sweep their remaining games.
For the rest of the cast, namely Phoenix Petroleum, NLEX, Rain or Shine, Alaska, GlobalPort and cellar dweller Blackwater, the doors remain open, but it’s up for them to get a ticket to the playoffs as they need to win their remaining games in the crucial stretch of the tournament.
The Fuel Masters are right at the middle of the pack with a 4-4 win-loss mark, but with the race tightening up for teams from fifth to 10th spots, coach Ariel Vanguardia doesn’t want to take any chances. His team has won its last two games and has a chance to gain more cushion when it shoots for its fifth win against Blackwater when they face off tomorrow.
NLEX forged a tie for seventh to eighth places with Rain or Shine after the Road Warriors came back from 21 points down before turning back the Elasto Painters, 111-99, Sunday night. Both teams now carry identical 4-5 slates.
But Alaska and GlobalPort are not far behind with their 3-5 cards, and they have a chance to move further when they part ways on Wednesday.