PBA's "Royal Rumble" resolved

Who gets the second seed, Alaska or Star? (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

ONE more night. Four scenarios to go.

One of them, however, can blow everyone's mind, even those of mathematicians like yours truly.

A huge upset by Mahindra against Star and a bounce back win by Rain Or Shine against Alaska on Wednesday could forge the long logjam.

And since everyone's hyped about the Royal Rumble and its virtual beauty queen counterpart, Miss Universe, that is, let's take a look again at the potential wild playoff chase in the PBA.

Jeckloy Acosta introduced us to the said scenario this past weekend, and now, let's add some numbers to it.

Unlike the NCAA, where the teams tied after the eliminations have to undergo a stepladder playoffs just to determine their seeding before the semifinal proper, the PBA only uses one tiebreaker rule: the quotients.

The quotient rule is radically different from the more convenient point differential rule as a team's scores as well as its opponents' will be considered here, although most of the time, the result of the quotient tiebreaker agrees with that of the point differentials.

So far, after a computation, Alaska has the best quotient at 1.099 followed by Star (1.081), TNT (1.04), GlobalPort (1.027), Rain Or Shine (0.991), Ginebra (0.964), and Phoenix (0.852).

Take note that only the quotients of the Aces and the Elasto Painters will change because they will lock horns on Wednesday and that the Hotshots will face a team outside of the seven squads that are in the potential big tie for second.

Taking into consideration the ever flamboyant "law of averages" (Alaska averages 97.2 points a game while limiting its opponents to 91.9, while ROS is at 95.4 and 92.8 respectively), Alaska can indeed fall out of the quarterfinal bonus with a loss to ROS.

We're done with the ridiculous part. But of course, Alaska and Star need a win to at least solidify their bid for the second seed (Alaska can get it outright with the victory regardless of what happens to Star thanks to the tiebreaker, a 97-90 win on Jan. 11).

So what happens if either of the two wins?

First, if Star and Rain Or Shine win, Star will get the 2-seed and the rest of the field will have to undergo the same quotient rule.

Pending their game and minus their results against the Hotshots, the Aces have a 1.104 quotient, while the E-Painters have 1.011. The KaTropa have 1.07, the Batang Pier have 1.017, the Barangay have 0.943, and the Fuel Masters have 0.905 on the other hand.

It may need a blowout by ROS to take Alaska out of the third seed. However, it can help ROS' cause as the team can steal the fifth seed from GlobalPort, giving the club TNT, which the quintet beat, 101-87, on Nov. 23.

[Related Story: Rain or Shine starts season strong, overpowers Castro-less TNT]

Now, what if it's the other way around? As I mentioned in the parenthesized sentence, all the Aces need is a win to get the second seed. In the process, the E-Painters will now have to fight for their tournament life against the Blackwater Elite in a knockout match for the last quarterfinal spot on Friday night.

If the Floodbusters still get the upset over the Hotshots, the latter will fall to the 6-5 logjam.

Still, because of the best quotient (1.123), Star will lock in the third spot. TNT (1.075) is fourth, and GlobalPort (1.004) is fifth, on the other hand.

The previous two cases would put Ginebra in danger of finishing seventh, which means only one loss in the quarterfinals and the team is out. However, the Mahindra-Alaska-win scenario would keep the league's crowd darlings, who has a 0.969 quotient disregarding their games against ROS and Alaska, out of the seventh seed and lock them in at sixth.

Phoenix, which has the lowest quotient at 0.867, will still have to settle for the twice-to-beat disadvantage at seventh.

Finally, if both Alaska and Star win, the former is second, the latter is third, ROS battles Blackwater for survival, and TNT (1.135) and GlobalPort (1.004) will lock in their best-of-three series.

A shakeup, however, could happen in the sixth seed as Phoenix, which has a 0.962 quotient, will overtake Ginebra, which only has 0.935, escaping the twice-to-beat disadvantage. In the process, the latter will fall to seventh, giving the club the said demerit.

In conclusion:

1. Alaska needs to beat ROS to secure the second seed without going to the dreaded logjam.

2. Star is assured of the third seed even if the team loses to Mahindra but can still go up to second if ROS stuns Alaska.

3. Provided Star beats Mahindra, ROS can still move up the seeding depending on its final winning margin against Alaska, but the victory will surely keep the team from the twice-to-beat disadvantage.

4. If Alaska wins, TNT and GlobalPort will face off in the quarterfinals

5. Ginebra can only hope for both Mahindra and Alaska to win for the squad to stay out of the wrong side of the quarterfinal bonus.

6. Phoenix can only hope for Star and Alaska to win for the squad to steal the sixth seed.

7. Blackwater can only hope for an Alaska win to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed by the writer does not reflect that of the publication.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno