A survival grind like no other.
Three do-or-die games .
While hurdling the first acid test would keep either the TNT Katropa or the Phoenix Fuel Masters alive as last placer among eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup, the next two assignments are tougher and more forbidding.
No less than defending champion San Miguel Beer, the elimination topnotcher, will be next in line for the survivor of the TNT-Phoenix knockout match for No. 8 which was going on at press time last night. (TNT won. -Ed.) And the task is even more daunting with the Beermen, who are seeking an unprecedented fourth straight all-Filipino, enjoying a twice-to-beat bonus as one of the top two teams after the elimination.
And SMB, now intact with Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas back in the lineup from sick bay, had already asserted itself against either of its quarterfinal foes, beating Phoenix, 104-96, last Dec. 17 and TNT, 88-76, last Jan. 13.
Also faced with a similarly difficult campaign in the playoffs is Barangay Ginebra , which escaped a potential knockout duel for the eighth slot by nipping Rain or Shine in triple overtime, 100-92, on Friday.
With 7-footer Greg Slaughter again indisposed with a sprained left ankle, the Kings were lucky to survive the Elasto Painters.
The same Elasto Painters will be tangling with the Kings anew in their best-of-three quarterfinal series starting Monday with Slaughter, who missed some games early in the series due to a hamstring injury, again a doubtful starter.
The other best-of-three series will pit Alaska against NLEX with Magnolia, the No. 2 team behind SMB, meeting GlobalPort in the other playoff duel also enjoying a twice-to-beat bonus.
SMB and Magnolia finished with 8-3 win-loss cards after the elimination but the Beermen were ranked higher due to the winner-over-the-other rule. Alaska wound up third at 7-4 followed by Rain or Shine, Ginebra and NLEX, which tied at 6-5 but were ranked in that order due to the quotient team.
The same quotient system decided the four-way tie at 5-6 among GlobalPort, TNT, Phoenix and Blackwater. The Batang Pier got the No. 7 ranking to set up the TNT-Phoenix duel for No. 8. Blackwater was eliminated and joined also-rans Meralco (4-7) and Kia (1-10).