Tight homestretch race

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Tight homestretch race

MANILA, Philippines —   From undefeated leader San Miguel Beer to their spirited pursuers to even exits-bound Converge, all teams have everything to play for in the last two weeks of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.

At 7-0, the defending champion Beermen may be safely into the quarterfinal round with still four games to go. But the pacesetters still have to get their hands on the coveted Top 2 seeding and twice-to-beat advantage in the Last-8.

And a rare 11-nil elims sweep is also a tantalizing proposition. Powerhouse SMB can achieve this by hurdling Magnolia, NLEX, Blackwater and Meralco in their closing assignments.

“Kailangan namin maging consistent sa ginagawa namin sa practice and lalo na sa game,” said San Miguel star CJ Perez.

The second-running Hotshots (5-2) lead the chase pack that also includes No. 3 Barangay Ginebra (6-3), No. 4 NLEX (5-3), No. 5 Rain or Shine (5-5) and No. 6 TNT (4-4).

Terrafirma and NorthPort sit at seventh and eighth with identical 4-5 slates, both determined to hang on to their spots inside the Magic 8.

Knocking at the doors of the cutline are Blackwater, Phoenix and Meralco, which tote 3-5 cards entering the elims homestretch.

Historically, six victories should be good to send a squad into the playoffs. But five may also suffice to either gain an outright qualification or set a rubber match, depending on how tight the standings go.

As for the FiberXers, post-elims play is already out of reach with their 1-8 card. But there are still battles to be won.

“In our last two games, we’re going to compete. We want to end the conference on a high note,” said coach Aldin Ayo, whose charges take on the Gin Kings and the Tropang Giga before their final bow.

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