MERALCO and Barangay Ginebra are going all out for wins on Sunday on the final day of eliminations in the PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena in matches that will determine two of the pairings in the playoffs.
A win for Meralco against No. 2 San Mig Coffee will earn the Bolts the No. 4 spot and set it up for a best-of-three quarterfinal showdown against the No. 5 seed Alaska in the knockout stage.
But if Meralco bows to San Mig Coffee, the Bolts can still end up facing Alaska if Talk ’N Text beats Barangay Ginebra in the day's second game.
If the Bolts lose and the Gin Kings win, Meralco takes on Rain or Shine instead in the best-of-three quarterfinals.
If the Mixers win and the Gin Kings lose, it will be Rain or Shine and Barangay Ginebra in the other best-of-three.
It’s not surprising to hear the coaches declare they will try to upend Talk N Text and San Mig Coffee, which won’t really budge from their places in the standings even if they lose.
The Meralco (7-6) - San Mig Coffee (10-3) match is set at 4:15 p.m., the Barangay Ginebra (7-6) Talk ’N Text (11-2) game tips off at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re happy to have a lock on one of the top six slots in the playoffs. Now, we will go for the win against San Mig. We know that a win can propel us to the No. 4 spot. Definitely, we’re not gonna choose which opponent we’ll play,” Gregorio said after the team’s practice.
Gregorio said reaching this far was part of the team’s initial modest goal since they are now without veteran center Asi Taulava.
The 6-foot-8 Fil-Tongan, the Bolts’ leading rebounder last season, decided to move to the Asean Basketball League and join the San Miguel Beermen, leaving Gregorio without a legitimate inside threat this season.
“Yes, it’s a big void to fill since Asi left, but somehow, our other bigs have filled in the void he left this season,” added Gregorio, referring to the 6’7” Jay-Ar Reyes, veteran Reynel Hugnatan and rookies Kelly Nabong and Cliff Hodge.
San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone said he might give his star forward James Yap a day off on Sunday to rest his right ankle due to bone spurs.
Meantime, the Gin Kings will also try to close out their elimination round campaign on a winning note against the Tropang Texters.
Barangay Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio said they are prepared for any team going into the playoffs.
“Regardless of the outcome, the important thing is we go for the win. Siyempre, maganda maglaro sa playoffs na galing kami sa panalo,” explained Tenorio, who is averaging 12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists this conference.