|Despite a late slump, TNT can still finish as high as second place. PBA Media Group (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY—It's Top 4 or bust for San Miguel and TNT as they collide for a spot within it in the final game of the PBA Governors' Cup eliminations at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Wednesday night.
Only one team among the Beermen (6-4) and the KaTropa (7-3) will clinch the said seat, which will mean a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, in their 7 p.m. match-up, which could well be a prelude of their showdown in the next round.
If San Miguel beats TNT, TNT will fall to the fifth seed and San Miguel could finish fourth depending on the final margin, meaning they may face each other again in the quarterfinals.
However, the Beermen could still finish third by virtue of a superior quotient between them and Barangay Ginebra (7-4) if the Beermen win by 14 points or more.
That would mean San Miguel will face defending champion Magnolia and Ginebra will battle TNT in the quarterfinals.
However, the Beermen's morale has been hampered by a reported tussle between locals Arwind Santos, Kelly Nabong, and Ronald Tubid as well as import Dez Wells during practice last Sunday.
Wells, despite still practicing, is still recovering from an ankle injury, and John Holland is taking over for the meantime.
A win by the KaTropa, on the other hand, will lock the Barangay at number four and force a showdown between them and the Beermen in the quarterfinals.
TNT, however, can go up to as high as second if NLEX beats Alaska in the first game at 4:30 p.m.
The Road Warriors, already assured of the top seed in the quarterfinals, can end up with the best record in the conference if they beat the Aces.
In that case, it would leave only the KaTropa and the Meralco Bolts (8-3) disputing for the second seed.
But TNT owns the tiebreaker over Meralco due to its 115-112 win on Oct. 12, meaning the former will take the second seed if it beats San Miguel and NLEX (8-2) prevails over Alaska.
A Road Warriors loss, however, will hand the Bolts the second seed even if the KaTropa win later Wednesday as the Bolts own the second best quotient should they end up tied at the top spot.
But the NLEX-Alaska game also has some playoff implications as far as the latter is concerned.
The Aces, following a dismal 1-6 start, won their last three games and now have control of their fate in making the quarterfinals.
Alaska can clinch the last quarterfinal spot outright with a win against NLEX. Alaska can even go up to the seventh seed since it has the tiebreaker over NorthPort thanks to its 106-99 win on Nov. 3.
However, a loss will drop the Aces to a win-or-go-home showdown with the Columbian Dyip for the last quarterfinal berth.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno