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PBA Governors' Cup playoffs: Explaining the highest/lowest possible finish for each team

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TNT KaTropa vying for final playoff spot (2:03)

The TNT KaTropa are looking to clinch the last spot in the quarterfinals of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup when they take on top-seed Brgy. Ginebra to close out the elimination round. (2:03)

The 2018 PBA Governors' Cup are almost upon us. In less than a week, eight teams will begin their road to the title, one that Barangay Ginebra has won for two straight years.

But before we can get there, we have one final weekend of elimination round basketball to play. Because of the tweak in the format this year (where finishing in the top four gives teams a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals), teams have tried to push for that incentive instead of simply jockeying for positions. That's why squads like Blackwater and Phoenix will go all out on Sunday fighting for a top four finish.

To date, there are still 16 scenarios that could unfold depending on what happens in final four games of the conference. Let's take a look at each potential playoff team and where they stand heading into the playoffs.

TNT KaTropa

  • Current Record: 4-6

  • Highest possible seed: 8th

  • Lowest possible seed: 9th

In all scenarios, TNT's fate lies in the hands of the Meralco Bolts. If Meralco beats San Miguel, then TNT's match against Ginebra will be win or go home. They'll have to defeat the Kings in order to force a playoff for the 8th seed against the Bolts.

If Meralco loses, TNT will have to defeat Ginebra to gain an outright entry into the playoffs as the 8th seed. A loss will still force a do-or-die match for the last playoff spot between TNT and Meralco, as both squads will finish at 4-7.

Meralco Bolts

  • Current Record: 4-6

  • Highest possible seed: 7th

  • Lowest possible seed: 9th

It has been a rough conference for last year's runner-up. But despite their mid-conference swoon, the Bolts still have a chance to make it to the playoffs. A win versus San Miguel catapults them to 5-6. And depending on what happens in the match between Ginebra and TNT, the Bolts would either advance to the playoffs or have to play a rubber match.

Here's the interesting part for the Bolts - they actually have a chance to get to the 7th seed. And for that to happen, NLEX has to lose to Rain or Shine. If that happens, and the Bolts beat the Beermen, Meralco will finish higher than NLEX in the standings despite having identical 5-6 records because of its 108-105 win over the Road Warriors.

NLEX Road Warriors

  • Current Record: 5-5

  • Highest possible seed: 7th

  • Lowest possible seed: 8th

The Road Warriors' spot in the playoffs is secure. NLEX can clinch the 7th seed with a win versus Rain or Shine, while a loss coupled with a Meralco victory and a TNT loss sends NLEX to the 8th spot. However, if all three teams win their final match, NLEX secures the 7th seed because of a superior quotient (+10), leaving the Bolts and the KaTropa battle for the final spot.

San Miguel Beermen

  • Current Record: 6-4

  • Highest possible seed: 5th

  • Lowest possible seed: 6th

The Beermen are a team no one in the top four wants to face, especially now that they're on a 4-game winning streak to become the 6th seed entering the final weekend of the eliminations.

There are several outcomes depending on the match, but the most crucial is that the Beermen must win their match against the Bolts to have a chance at claiming the 5th seed. Then it will boil down to the two squads competing for the final twice-to-beat edge, Blackwater and Phoenix. If Phoenix loses, San Miguel leapfrogs them in the standings, sending them to the 6th seed because of their 117-100 victory. However if Phoenix gets the win, then the Beermen are locked in as the 6th seed because the Elite have a 103-100 win over them.

A loss leaves San Miguel at the 6th spot regardless of the outcome of the Phoenix and Blackwater game.

Blackwater Elite

  • Current Record: 7-3

  • Highest possible seed: 4th

  • Lowest possible seed: 5th

One of the biggest surprises the conference and already having the best run in franchise history, the Elite will go for their first-ever twice-to-beat advantage when they take on the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Sunday.

It's simple for the Elite: a win locks them up as the 4th seed, and a loss drops them as the 5th, because of their win over San Miguel. Can Henry Walker and company continue their magic run and get a huge advantage heading into the playoffs?

Phoenix Fuel Masters

  • Current Record: 7-3

  • Highest possible seed: 2nd

  • Lowest possible seed: 6th

The team with the most variables in terms of final spots in the playoffs is Phoenix.

If the Fuel Masters beat the Elite, they become the second seed (because they have a superior quotient over the Alaska Aces and the Magnolia Hotshots).

The worst case scenario for the Fuel Masters is finishing as the 6th seed which will only happen if San Miguel wins (over Meralco) and they lose to the Elite. The Beermen beat the Fuel Masters, so that gives SMB the advantage if ever they end up with identical records.

Finally, the Fuel Masters can also finish in 5th place. That happens if they lose to Blackwater and Meralco beats San Miguel. If that happens, Phoenix ends up as the 5th seed, and their final game of the eliminations against Blackwater transforms into a virtual playoff series with the Elite having the advantage.

Alaska Aces

  • Current Record: 8-3

The Aces were locked in as the third seed after their 95-85 win over the Northport Batang Pier. They have the lowest quotient currently among teams with identical 8-3 records, Magnolia and Ginebra. Therefore the only challenge for the Aces now is preparing for whichever team will finish as the 6th seed.

Magnolia Hotshots

  • Current Record: 8-3

  • Highest possible seed: 1st

  • Lowest possible seed: 4th

Despite their loss to Barangay Ginebra, the Hotshots still has a chance to finish as the top seed heading into the playoffs.

That can only happen if Blackwater beats Phoenix and Ginebra loses to TNT. If that combination happens, then Magnolia climbs to the top by virtue of a superior quotient due to the team's 133-99 victory over Blackwater.

But if Ginebra beats TNT, that automatically relegates Magnolia to the second spot because Ginebra will finish with a 9-2 card, superior to all other squads at the end of the eliminations.

The worst case scenario for the Hotshots, though, is if Phoenix defeats Blackwater and Ginebra beats TNT. That leaves Alaska, Phoenix and Magnolia with identical 8-3 cards. That means Phoenix will wind up as the second seed, by virtue of a superior quotient.

Barangay Ginebra

  • Current Record: 8-2

  • Highest possible seed: 1st

  • Lowest possible seed: 2nd

A win over TNT makes Ginebra the top seed with a 9-2 card. A loss, meanwhile, puts the Kings at 8-3 and could give them the second spot (depending on the results of the other games), since they have superior quotients over whichever team winds up with the same record as theirs. Though they still don't know which team they will face in the quarterfinals, Ginebra has done the work despite numerous injuries to be in great position to defend their crown and go for the three-peat.

One weekend remaining packed with PBA action, and still nothing (well, except Alaska as the third seed) is certain. Sit tight and let's see how this all unfolds.