Although assured of the No. 1 spot, the Barangay Ginebra Kings played as if they were still fighting for survival in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup by drubbing the TNT KaTropa, 112-93, on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Wanting to head into the playoffs on a winning note, the Kings turned it up in the second period but broke the game wide open in the final frame on the way to their ninth victory in 11 matches.
Ginebra, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, will face NLEX in the quarterfinals.
The win shut the door on TNT, which was vying for the last spot in the quarterfinals but wound up stumbling with a 4-7 win-loss record in a conference that saw the KaTropa replace head coach Nash Racela with Bong Ravena.
Meralco will march on to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed after the 30-point victory over San Miguel Beermen on Saturday at the Big Dome.
Ginebra turned it up in the fourth period, with Kevin Ferrer hitting two triples, the last gave the Gin Kings a comfortable 108-86 lead with three minutes remaining.
Justin Brownlee led Ginebra's attack with a triple-double outing of 31 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists to go with three steals and the same number of steals.
Greg Slaughter chimed in 25 points, including three of four free throws as Ginebra reached the century mark, 100-83 with 6:19 to go. He also had four rebounds and three assists.
Scottie Thompson chipped in 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Japeth Aguilar added 10 markers.
"It's a blessing. I thank God. A lot of guys stepped up this conference," said Brownlee after the match.
Hobbled by foul trouble, Marqus Blakely paced TNT with 23 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and three blocks. RR Pogoy scored 22 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the three-point area, while Jayson Castro had 12 markers and 12 assists.
Troy Rosario added 11 points before fouling out four minutes into the fourth period.
Ginebra (112) - Brownlee 31, Slaughter 25, Thompson 11, J. Aguilar 10, Mariano 9, Ferrer 9, Tenorio 7, Mercado 4, Dela Cruz 3, Chan 3, Caguioa 0, Caperal 0, R. Aguilar 0, Manuel 0.
TNT (93) - Blakely 23, Pogoy 22, Castro 12, Rosario 11, Reyes 8, Cruz 7, Trollano 4, Carey 2, Williams 2, Tamsi 2, Golla 0, Taha 0, Garcia 0, Paredes 0.
Quarterscores: 24-22, 54-45, 82-69, 112-93.
-- Terrence Romeo was reduced to a cheerleader as he was still recovering from flu.
-- Facing a tall Ginebra frontline, TNT settled more with outside shooting in the first half. That's why there was a 6-22 disparity in free throw attempts between the two teams in the first 24 minutes of action.
Ginebra - vs NLEX (quarterfinals) on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum