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Defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel hopes to secure the eighth and final quarterfinals berth when it takes on Meralco in the final day of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations Thursday, Sept. 23 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Gin Kings must win over the Bolts in the 2 p.m. match in order to complete the quarterfinal cast or be put in a complicated situation that may lead to an early exit from the season’s most important tournament.

Ginebra’s quest to keep its campaign alive faces an uphill climb with Japeth Aguilar in doubt to play the crucial tiff due to an MCL sprain and Scottie Thompson placed under the league’s health and safety protocols.

Replacing Thompson on the active roster is shooter Jeff Chan, who has yet to see action since the restart.

But Ginebra could get some sort of advantage with Meralco playing a non-bearing match after nailing the No. 2 seed and the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals following its 104-101 win over NLEX.

NorthPort faces Alaska at 4:35 p.m. in the other game that could play a key role in Ginebra’s survival.

A loss to Meralco can keep Ginebra in the hunt for a playoff for the No. 8 spot with Phoenix Super LPG, provided that NorthPort prevails over Alaska.

But Ginebra will end a streak of 37 straight quarterfinal appearances if Alaska, despite already out of playoff contention, beats NorthPort.

That’s because Phoenix and Terrafirma will meet in a do-or-die match for the last quarters berth due to superior quotients than Ginebra and Alaska.

Phoenix and Terrafirma finished the elims at 4-7 while Alaska is at 3-7 after a heartbreaking 101-100 loss to San Miguel Beer on Marcio Lassiter’s corner triple.

NorthPort carries a 5-5 record going into the match, with a win securing them the No. 5 seed and a best-of-three affair with No. 4 SMB.

But defeat will relegate the Batang Pier into No. 6 and a best-of-three meeting with the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots plus a Gin Kings win or at No. 7 and a twice-to-win disadvantage against the second-ranked Bolts coupled with a victory by the latter.

Source: Manila Bulletin (