Philippine Daily Inquirer

Fight to the finish

Five teams, three playoff berths; wild finish seen as PBA Philippine Cup enters homestretc­h of eliminatio­n phase

- By Cedelf P. Tupas @cedelfptIN­Q

With five teams in the running for three quarterfin­al spots, everything points to an exciting finish to the eliminatio­n round of the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday.

Barangay Ginebra battles Rain or Shine at 7 p.m., shooting for a victory that will also allow the Gin Kings to avoid a disadvanta­ge in the next round, while Phoenix fights to stay alive in the playoff race at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings, who can book a quarterfin­al berth with a victory, haven’t seen action since losing to Meralco on Feb. 18 but are favorites against the depleted Painters.

The game has huge repercussi­ons for Ginebra: A loss will relegate it to a playoff for the No. 8 seed with either TNT or Blackwater.

And as if that isn’t already a daunting task, a date with top seed and defending champion San Miguel Beer awaits should they survive that duel.

The Fuel Masters need a victory against GlobalPort to survive, but they will battle a Batang Pier squad that will be boosted by the return of Terrence Romeo in the first game at 4:30 p.m.

“I’m excited to play again and I hope I can help the team,” said Romeo in Filipino. “Coach Pido (Jarencio) has done a good job for the team.”

With a 4-6 record, Phoenix can at least gain a playoff berth for a quarterfin­al spot against TNT with a victory.

But a win by the Fuel Masters coupled by a Ginebra loss in the second game will put Phoenix in the No. 7 spot, which will lead to a showdown with twice-to-beat Magnolia.

Already through to the next round, the Batang Pier, who hold a 5-5 record, are hoping to avoid dropping to No. 7.

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