(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. -- Blackwater vs. Rain or Shine
BLACKWATER and Rain or Shine -- two teams that made good account of themselves early in the elimination -- collide today in a playoff for the eighth and last quarterfinal slot in the PBA Philippine Cup that’s returning to Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Odds are just about even for the Elite and the Elasto Painters in their 7 p.m. tussle which became necessary after the two teams ended the elimination round tied for 8th place with similar 5-6 win-loss slates.
The Elasto Painters defeated the Elite the first time they met this season last December 9, 107-93, in a game where James Yap scored 15 points, his first significant output since he transferred to the RoS.
That win though is no guarantee of a repeat for the Painters, especially since they are playing an Elite team that may be different from the first time they met –a sort of tendency in every team that’s playing in a playoff.
Actually, the Painters could have avoided the playoff but their skid went unchecked, losing all their last three outings, including against Alaska, 94-89, last Wednesday in a game where JV Casio exploded for 25 big points.
As a result, it was the Aces, leaning on a strong fourth quarter, who gained much in that victory which enabled them to clinch the second seed at the end of the elimination.
The Aces clinched their seventh win in 11 outings to match the record of the Star Hotshots who had earlier defeated Mahindra, 124-87.
However, the Aces became the second best team next to top seed 10-1 San Miguel Beer, by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule. The Aces had defeated the Hotshots, 97-90, last January 11.
“I just got a little bit scared. What a game! Rain or Shine’s tough,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton after the bruising encounter.
“Told the guys coach Caloy’s (Garcia) got a great basketball mind. They made runs, they exposed our bad rotations. Last few minutes we defended really well,” added Compton.
The win set the Aces into a quarterfinal meeting with dangerous Barangay Ginebra whom they need to beat only once to make the semifinals of the same conference they nearly won last season after going 3-0 in the best-of-7 finals against the Beermen.
Under the tournament format, the top team (in this case San Miguel), plays the number 8, which is either Rain or Shine or Blackwater, with number two Alaska taking on number 7 (Ginebra).
Both SMB and Alaska need to win only once to make the semifinals right away.
No. 3 Star, on the other hand, will take on no. 6 Phoenix and no. 4 Talk ‘N Text will go up against no. 5 Globalport. Both are set in a best-of-3 series.