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Teams brace for mad dash to last 3 playdates of Governors’ Cup

Games On Wednesday(Ynares Sports Center, Antipolo City)3 p.m. — Blackwater vs Magnolia5:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs Terrafirma

THREE more bonuses plus one last ticket to the quarterfinals are still up for grabs in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

And with three playdates left, multiple teams are very much in the running with no plans of letting up for an expected mad dash to the finish of the season-ending conference elims.

Only the top four teams will claim twice-to-beat incentives and pace-setting Talk N’ Text, at 8-1, so far is the first to secure it — leaving San Miguel Beer (SMB) (7-2), reigning champion Barangay Ginebra (7-2), NLEX (7-3), Meralco  (7-4) and Magnolia (6-4) in a wild mix.

SMB, Ginebra and NLEX — of all teams — enjoy an inside track as they only need to take care of their remaining assignments to get in the Top 4. The Beermen and the Gin Kings have to win only one of their last two games while NLEX has to get the job done against SMB next Wednesday.

Meralco and Magnolia, for their parts, need all the stars to align with losses of their counterparts to force tie at 7-4 among multiple teams for a complication set to be determined by point differentials.

“We knew this would be a big game in terms of us taking over the hump and getting to the top four. I think officially though, we still have to get one of our next two to qualify to the top four,” said coach Tim Cone as Ginebra bumped Converge (6-5) out of the playoff bonus race with a 120-101 victory over the weekend.

“We needed the win against Terrafirma to maintain our standings in the Top 4. Now, we have to think of ways to beat SMB in our last game,” said NLEX mentor Frankie Lim as a win versus the Beermen would secure them a bonus.

San Miguel has Rain or Shine and NLEX in its schedule, Ginebra has Terrafirma and TNT, Magnolia has Blackwater while Meralco just finished its campaign with a 92-86 win over Phoenix, which is still hanging on to dear life for the last and eighth quarterfinal slot. Phoenix wrapped up its schedule at 4-7, needing a Northport (3-7) loss against TNT in the penultimate playdate next Wednesday after the PBA All-Star break this weekend to complete the playoff cast. Otherwise, the Fuel Masters and the Batang Pier would slug it out in a playoff for No. 8.

Converge, despite a crucial three-game losing skid in the homestretch, is already in the bottom half of the quarterfinals though its final seeding is yet to be determined pending the remaining matches.

Rain or Shine (2-8), Terrafirma (2-8) and Blackwater (1-9) are already out of contention regardless of the results of their remaining games.

The PBA will have a playdate tomorrow in Antipolo featuring Magnolia-Blackwater and Ginebra-Terrafirma before a week-long break for the return of the All-Star Weekend in Passi City, Iloilo.

TNT and SMB, fresh off their campaigns in the East Asia Super League, plunge back to action next Wednesday vs Northport and NLEX, respectively, followed by the last matches of SMB-ROS and TNT-Ginebra on Friday to determine the fortunes of the remaining teams still in contention. — John Bryan Ulanday

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