Ginebra, SMB, Star vie for top two spots; Alaska, GlobalPort, Phoenix fight for dear life
Star, San Miguel and Ginebra are vying for the two twice-to-beat spots in the PBA playoffs.

IT’S that time of the PBA season again that teams fighting for playoff positions are in an agonizing wait for their fate – and sportswriters are forced to remember their basic math lessons in order to figure out the quotients that will determine the postseason pairings.

After all, the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup is down to its last elimination playdate on Friday featuring a doubleheader, the results of which will complete the playoff picture.

Six teams are already through to the quarterfinals, so there are still two spots up for grabs, while the top two seeds have yet to be finalized.

Here are the standings of the teams that are still relevant in the race:

1. *Star                 9-2

2. *Ginebra            8-2

3. *SMB                 8-2

4. *TNT                 8-3

5. *Meralco            7-4

6. *ROS                5-6

7. GlobalPort          4-6

8. Alaska               4-7

9. Phoenix             4-7

* - clinched playoffs

And here are the last two regular-season games on Friday at the Big Dome:

4:15 p.m. – SMB vs GlobalPort   

7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Mahindra

Mahindra is already out of contention with a 3-7 win-loss record even if it pulls off an upset over Ginebra that would create a tie with at least two other teams fighting for their playoff lives. That’s because the Floodbuster will still end up with the worst quotient among the tied teams, sealing their 10th-place finish.

That leaves three teams fighting for the last two playoff positions.

On the other end of the spectrum, three SMC teams are gunning for the top two seeds that each come with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.

Here’s what they need to do – either to simply book a ticket to the next round or to clinch one of the top-two spots.

There are four scenarios left, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.

For GlobalPort to advance:

Their chances seemingly dim after losing six of their first eight games, the Batang Pier have suddenly found a bright spot thanks to an import change that led to the arrival of Justin Harper and a two-game win streak.

The seventh-running squad can even avoid complications and clinch the postseason outright if it simply wins its last game against mighty San Miguel. That will allow GlobalPort to even climb to sixth spot over Rain or Shine due to the winner-over-the-other rule, putting it in a more favorable best-of-three series against the third seed than being in a twice-to-win disadvantage against either one of the top two seeds.

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If they lose to SMB, the Batang Pier can still make it to the next round, but will have to go through a playoff for the last spot either against Alaska or Phoenix.

For Alaska to advance:

The Aces squandered a chance to climb to sixth seed and be in a best-of-three series after another heartbreaking loss to Star on Wednesday, but they can still clinch the playoffs outright as the seventh seed if GlobalPort loses to SMB and Mahindra wins against Ginebra. That will create a four-way logjam at 4-7 with Phoenix, the Batang Pier, and the Floodbuster, a scenario that favors the Aces, who will end up with the best quotient among the four teams.

If a three-way tie at 4-7 happens instead, the Aces first have to go through a playoff for the eighth seed, two scenarios seeing them taking on Phoenix, and one scenario against GlobalPort.

For Phoenix to advance:

The Fuel Masters will qualify for the postseason without complications if GlobalPort and Mahindra lose their games on Friday, creating a three-way tie at 4-7 with Alaska and the Batang Pier. With the superior quotient in a tiereak, Phoenix can move up to seventh seed and face the twice-to-beat second seed.

If any other scenario ensues, the Fuel Masters will still have to go through a playoff for the final ticket against either GlobalPort or Alaska.

For SMB to clinch twice-to-beat edge:

The Beermen will finish in either one of the top two spots with a win over GlobalPort – claiming the top seed if Ginebra loses to Mahindra, giving the Beermen the the winner over Star due to the winner-over-the-other rule. SMB will finish second if Ginebra wins against Mahindra.

SMB, however, can drop to as low as fourth seed if it lets its guard down against the Batang Pier, leaving the Beermen with an 8-3 card that will put them in a tie with TNT KaTropa, and possibly Ginebra. That scenario leaves SMB with the worse quotient than the Texters’ and the Gin Kings’, pitting them against Meralco in a best-of-three series.

For Ginebra to clinch twice-to-beat edge:

The Gin Kings will grab the top seed if it beats Mahindra, giving the winners a twice-to-beat advantage against the eighth seed.

Ginebra can still claim a win-once incentive if it loses to the Floodbuster, provided that GlobalPort stuns SMB, a result that will create a three-way tie at 8-3 among the Gin Kings, Texters, and Beermen. That will award the Gin Kings the second seed owing to having the best quotient among three tied teams.

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The Gin Kings, though, can drop to third spot in a best-of-three series against sixth seed Rain or Shine if they lose to Mahindra and SMB beats GlobalPort.

For Star to clinch twice-to-beat edge:

The idle Hotshots may enjoy the view from the top, but it won’t be for long if their sister squads dispatch their respective rivals on Friday that would create a three-way tie at 9-2 and leaving Star with the worst quotient among its sister teams. That will drop them to third seed in a best-of-three series against Rain or Shine.

But if either of its sister teams lose its final eliminations assignment in the three other scenarios, Star will end up with either one of the top two seeds.

Here are the unofficial scenarios, courtesy of PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos