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Currently in 3rd, SMB can still fall to 5th

There is a possibility that Shabazz Muhammad's explosive game could still be not enough for San Miguel to seal a quarterfinal bonus. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

ENTERING this week's games, there are eight possible scenarios that could happen at the end of the PBA Governors' Cup elimination round which mainly involve teams jockeying for playoff positions.

Only Magnolia and NLEX are assured of entering the quarterfinals with a twice-to-beat advantage being the top two seeds.

Two more are still up for grabs, and one of them, the third seed, is the main focus of the first installment of this quotient series.

At the moment, San Miguel, which finished its elimination round stint with a huge comeback win over Meralco on Saturday night, is in third place at 7-4.

But as we can see in the cases of the Hotshots (9-1) and the Road Warriors (8-3), eight wins basically assure you the quarterfinal bonus, and based on one possible scenario, seven may not be enough for the Beermen.

Yes, even if SMB got one up over Meralco, another team chasing for the twice-to-beat edge, the latter might still have the last laugh and the former could still fall to the fifth seed needing to win twice to enter the semifinals.

But first, the imperative for the Bolts is to beat the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday.

In fact, this is the only way for Meralco to clinch the twice-to-beat as a loss to Phoenix could bring them could even bring them to the brink of elimination. That scenario will be discussed in the next part.

Anyway, a Meralco win will give the team the fourth seed, and the results of TNT's last two games against Terrafirma on Wednesday and NorthPort on Friday will ultimately decide if SMB is a Top 4 team too.

One loss by the Tropang Giga will surely hand the Beermen the third seed (Back-to-back losses could lead to an outright TNT elimination. More on that in the next part).

But if TNT wins both its remaining games and Meralco beats Phoenix too, a three-way tie for third to fifth places at 7-4 ensues.

The de facto tiebreaker: TNT's blowout win over SMB on Feb. 16.

The Tropang Giga's 96-81 rout of the Beermen gives the former enough breathing room to seal the third seed with a plus-12 total differential.

Meanwhile, although the Bolts blew a 26-point lead and succumbed to an epic performance from the import they were supposed to sign up, the eventual final margin, a 115-110 Beermen win, is just too close enough for them to remain at #4 with a minus-2 (Meralco beat TNT on Dec. 12, 83-80).

With that said, SMB, with the worst differential at minus-10, will fall to the fifth seed and will probably need two more explosions from Shabazz Muhammad to overcome Meralco's twice-to-beat edge.

To add, even if the Bolts lose to the Fuel Masters, back-to-back wins by the Tropang Giga will still give them the third seed.

But in this case, the Beermen will still claim the twice-to-beat edge as the fourth seed, only needing to beat the fifth-seed Bolts just once to enter the semis.

To summarize:

1. A TNT or Meralco loss will assure SMB the twice-to-beat edge.

2. A TNT loss will give SMB the third seed.

3. Back-to-back wins will give TNT the third seed.

4. A win will give Meralco the fourth seed.

5. SMB could drop to the fifth seed with back-to-back TNT wins and a Meralco win.

Up next: a wild finale for fourth place and how the Tropang Giga could still be eliminated outright.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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