8 battle for 6 slots
BY WAYLON GALVEZ
5:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Air21
7:30 p.m. – B-Meg vs Talk ’N Text
Manila, Philippines – With Rain or Shine the only team assured so far of a slot in the next round, it’s still a wide-open race for the remaining five semifinal berths in the shortened season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup.
And in this final week of elimination round, all games will be crucial.
The Elasto Painters booked the first semifinal seat when it downed the Barako Bull Energy last June 17, and then clinched the No. 1 spot in the next round with a masterful 103-82 victory over defending champion Petron Blaze in a road-game in Dumaguete City last Saturday.
The win improved the Yeng Guiao-mentored team’s record at 7-1, giving them the top seed label in the semis regardless of the outcome of its last game versus Talk ’N Text on Sunday.
“It’s good that we’re in the semis, but our goal is to continue to improve,” said Guiao. “We still have to win against TNT in our final game in the elimination, which if we do will be a big boost to our confidence.”
With a format that dictates only the top six teams will advance to the semifinals where win-loss records will be carried over, eight teams are fighting for the five remaining tickets, Commissioner’ Cup champion B-Meg.
At 5-2, the Llamados are in second place and a win away from booking a spot in the semifinals, which they can do with a win against revitalized Talk ’N Text tomorrow at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters, after starting the conference at 1-3, have won three straight matches to jump at solo third with a 4-3 record. TNT won against Alaska (80-72), Barako Bull (109-89) and Barangay Ginebra (113-111) Sunday night.
Meralco also won against Powerade two days back (91-78), and Ginebra’s loss to TNT and Petron’s setback to Rain or Shine forced a four-way tie at 4-4 between the Bolts, the Tigers, the Kings and the Boosters.
Barako Bull and Air21 are currently at eighth and ninth spots with 3-4 and 2-5 cards, respectively. They are still in the race. Alaska, at 1-7, is the first team to be eliminated.
Air21 meets Alaska also tomorrow and Petron on Friday, while Barako Bull will still play Ginebra also on Friday and Meralco on Sunday. After facing TNT, B-Meg takes on Powerade on Saturday in Legazpi City.
“It’s going to be an interesting final week of the PBA,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio. “Every game is expected to be exciting, because every win counts for every team vying for a semis spot.”
Ties will be determined via quotient system and knockout matches.