With its 102-90 victory over Ginebra on Sunday, Talk ‘N Text took a step closer to their Grand Slam dream, clinching a finals berth in the 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup by winning its ninth game against three losses. The Tropang Texters are now only four finals wins away from achieving the rare feat, which will only be the fifth of its kind in the PBA’s 36-year history.
Talk ‘N Text, which previously won the 2010-11 Philippine Cup and the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup, still has a game left — against Petron Blaze on Friday — but it’s a game it can afford to lose as no other team can get a ninth win in the final two playdates of the semis.
The question is: Which team will have the honor of trying to stop Talk ‘N Text’s Grand Slam dream?
With just four games left in the semis, four teams remain in the running for that second and last finals slot. The team that places second after the semifinal round will make it to the finals.
Based on the conference’s rules, there will be no playoff in case of any ties for second place after the semis. Ties will be resolved using head-to-head results or the PBA quotient system to determine who gets the second finals berth.
As of Sunday’s games, Barangay Ginebra and Alaska are in second place in the team standings with their identical 7-5 win-loss slates. Rain or Shine and Petron Blaze are half a game behind with their 6-5 records.
The Boosters will battle B-MEG, which has already been eliminated with its 5-7 record, on Wednesday before facing the Tropang Texters.
Rain or Shine will take on the Aces on Wednesday and the Kings on Friday.
Rain or Shine’s best shot
Of the four teams still in the running, the Elasto Painters seem to have the best shot, as their fate is completely in their hands. Winning its last two games will give Rain or Shine its first PBA finals appearance in franchise history, since entering the league in 2006.
“The last two games should define our character,” Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao told the Philippine Star’s Nelson Beltran. “[This is] the best chance this franchise ever had to make the PBA finals.
Even if Petron Blaze also wins its last two games to tie Rain or Shine at 8-5, the Elasto Painters will still advance to the finals because they beat the Boosters twice — by huge margins — 113-83 on June 24 and 102-86 on Saturday in Digos City, Davao del Sur.
Petron Blaze still in the running
There are 16 possible scenarios after the remaining games in the semis, but there are only two ways for Petron Blaze to advance.
First, the Boosters need to sweep their last two games.
Petron would then have to hope that: a) they end up tied with Ginebra at the end of the semis at 8-5, which would happen if Rain or Shine beats Alaska and loses to Ginebra; or b) they end up in a three-way tie at 8-5 with Ginebra and Alaska, which would happen if Alaska and Barangay Ginebra both win their games over Rain or Shine.
If tied with Ginebra, Petron Blaze will advance to the finals because the Boosters beat the Gin Kings twice this conference. Petron Blaze also has a superior PBA quotient compared to Alaska and Ginebra in case of a three-way tie, paving the way for the Boosters to waltz into the finals.
Express lane for Gin Kings, Aces
For Ginebra, the easiest way to make it to the finals is if Rain or Shine beats Alaska on Wednesday, it beats the Elasto Painters on Friday, and Petron Blaze doesn’t win both of its remaining games.
In that scenario, Ginebra would sit solo at second place.
Alaska, meanwhile, needs to win its remaining game against Rain or Shine on Wednesday. Then, it should pray that Ginebra loses to the Elasto Painters on Friday.
In that scenario, the Aces will advance to the finals even if Petron Blaze were to win its last two games because of their superior quotient, having beaten the Boosters in the semis 88-81 on July 24 while only conceding by a point in their overtime loss to their opponents on July 3.
The most complicated scenario
But if Ginebra ends up tied with Alaska — which could happen if both teams beat Rain or Shine while Petron Blaze lost one of its remaining games — things get a little more complicated.
Alaska won over Ginebra by four points, 83-79, in their elimination round encounter last July 16. But the Gin Kings beat the Aces in the semis last Friday by the same four-point margin, 81-77. Their head-to-head and PBA quotient results are tied.
The second tiebreaker would be the a team’s PBA quotient in all of its games this conference. Currently, Ginebra has a 1.0194 conference quotient (plus-21), compared to Alaska’s 1.0097 (plus-10).
This means that the result of their scores in their game against Rain or Shine will matter. This means that the Aces’ margin of victory over Rain or Shine would need to be 11 points better that the Kings’.
But Alaska will play the Elasto Painters first, so it wouldn’t know the exact margin by which it has to win. As it is, grabbing the win is already a hard task for the Aces.
Curiously, if Alaska and Ginebra’s conference quotients are still tied, the rules state that the third tiebreaker is a coin toss. Can you imagine the flip of a coin determining something as important as a finals berth? That toss will probably be covered live on national television.
It’s a remote possibility, but it’s still a possibility. If Alaska were to beat Rain or Shine, 136-124, on Wednesday and Barangay Ginebra wins over the Elasto Painters, 75-74, on Friday, the conference quotient ending up tied will become a reality.
Of course, PBA commissioner Chito Salud has the power to decide to forego the coin toss, for the best interest of the league, and just let the teams decide things on the hardcourt. This writer thinks that would be the best.
Rare chance for the Tropang Texters
Currently, Talk ‘N Text is only the eighth team in PBA history to have a shot at a Grand Slam.
Aside from Crispa which achieved the feat in 1976 and 1983, San Miguel Beer, which did it in 1989 and Alaska in 1996, there were only four other franchises that won the first two conferences in a season – Toyota in 1976, Great Taste in 1985, Tanduay in 1986 and Sunkist in 1995.
Crispa was also won the first two conference titles in 1977, as did Alaska in 1998.
However, of those six teams which failed in their Grand Slam bids in the end, only Toyota in 1977 actually made it to the finals of the third conference, only to lost Crispa in their best-of-five title series, 3-2, despite winning the first two games of a series. Talk about a collapse.
Fidel Mangonon III is the head of statistics for the Philippine Basketball Association. For more discussion on the ins and outs of the league, follow Fidel on Twitter.