Talk n Text’s Mac Cardona, left, in file photo with Air21’s JR Quinahan and Gary David, right, in their first encounter, is expected to lead the Tropang Texters in a crucial Christmas Day contest with the Express. Jun Mendoza]

MANILA, DECEMBER 24, 2008 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Two teams seek an outright entry into the semifinals, one looks for a playoff for an automatic semis seat and another one tries to salvage a playoff for the Top Five in the climactic ending of the KFC PBA Philippine Cup elimination round at the Araneta Coliseum tomorrow.

Talk n Text clashes with Air21 at 3 p.m. and Barangay Ginebra tangles with Rain or Shine at 5:30 p.m. in a special Christmas Day doubleheader closing the double-round elimination phase.

The Tropang Texters, the Elasto Painters and the Kings are slugging it out for the No. 2 spot while the Express are hoping to make the Magic Five for an outright entry into the quarterfinals.

“All teams have played their hearts out for the benefit of the fans. The close race throughout the conference till the last day is the result of the intensity and passion displayed by the players,” said PBA commissioner Sonny Barrios.

Playoffs resolving ties look inevitable.

Should there be playoffs, these will be played Sunday at the Big Dome. The wildcard round starts on this date should there’s no tie to be broken.

Alaska (12-6) has claimed the No. 1 spot while Coca-Cola (7-11) has taken No. 9, slamming the wildcard door on Red Bull (5-13).

Yet to be resolved are the final seedings of Talk n Text (10-7), Rain or Shine (10-7), Sta. Lucia (10-8), Ginebra (9-8), San Miguel (9-9) and Air21 (8-9).

There are several possible scenarios heading into Christmas Day twinbill. Three would require playoff or a double-playoff.

Everything is automatically resolved if Talk n Text and Ginebra prevail over Air21 and Rain or Shine. In such case, the Tropang Texters join the Aces in outright entry into the semis, the Kings, the Elasto Painters and the Realtors gain outright quarters and the Beermen, the Giants and the Express are relegated to the wildcard with the Tigers.

A double-playoff would ensue should Talk n Text and Rain or Shine triumph. In this scenario, the Tropang Texters and the Elasto Painters figure in a playoff for the No. 2 spot while the Beermen and the Kings slug it out for the No. 5 seat.

A third scenario is victories by Air21 and Ginebra which would force a three-way tie at second among the Kings, the Tropang Texters and the Elasto Painters.

The two teams with the superior quotients figure in the playoff for the No. 2 spot. Talk n Text is assured of a playoff spot with a plus-39 point differential. Ginebra needs to beat Rain or Shine by 14 or more to gain the right to play Talk n Text.

Air21 secures a playoff crack at the No. 5 seat on a win over Talk n Text coupled by a Rain or Shine victory over Ginebra.

In all these scenarios, Sta. Lucia is assured of spot in the Magic Five. Yet to be decided is whether the Realtors will be No. 3, 4 or 5.

“Making outright quarters entry, we’ve got a good chance at defending our crown,” said Sta. Lucia coach Boyet Fernandez.

“We’re very happy with what we’ve achieved. We have a good chance of making the finals. At No. 1, it’s a lot easier to make the finals because we’re going through only one playoff,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone.

Cyrus Baguio is reportedly also on the way out of Red Bull and is heading for either Air21 or Talk n Text.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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