WITH two games left in the NCAA Season 93 elimination round, the race for the last semifinal spot just took an unexpected twist.
What looked like a two-team race for the fourth spot has now become a three-way dance after Arellano claimed its third straight win at the expense of San Sebastian, 85-79, on Tuesday.
Only the fourth and final semifinalist remained open as Jose Rizal University clinched the third spot in the playoffs after winning over Mapua, 62-58, in the first match of Tuesday’s double-header.
The victory sent the Chiefs to a tie with the Stags for fifth and sixth with 7-9 records as they enter the final two weeks of the season.
The Arellano win also gave fourth-running Letran some breathing space as it totes an 8-8 record though the Knights will have a tougher path ahead compared to the two other contenders.
Still standing in the way of Letran is old rival San Beda on Friday before the Knights close out their elims stint against also-ran College of St. Benilde on October 17.
A victory for the Knights in any of the two games will assure them of at least a playoff for a Final Four berth, while a sweep of both games will automatically grant them the final semis berth.
Arellano and San Sebastian have relatively easier schedules, though the biggest question for the Chiefs now is the health of star guard Kent Salado.
Salado limped out halfway through the fourth period of the win over the Stags due to a knee injury.
The Chiefs take on struggling Perpetual Help on Thursday before capping things off with a game against Mapua on Oct. 17.
The Stags, on the other hand, take on Mapua this Friday before battling Perpetual in the final playdate of the elims on Oct 19.
There’s also the remote possibility of a three-way tie for the fourth spot, as a split by Letran and sweeps for both San Sebastian and Arellano will put all squads at 9-9.
Should that happen, the team with the two lowest quotients would play each other, with the winner facing the team with the highest quotient for the final semifinal slot.
San Sebastian looks like the clear-cut favorite to get the superior quotient should that happen after its 95-65 blowout win over Letran in the second round.