Defying the odds
It’s not often that a team with a twice-to-beat disadvantage manages to survive a playoff series in the PBA. Before Ginebra San Miguel did the improbable in eliminating Rain Or Shine last Monday, only eight of 65 teams overcame the odds to stay alive – a daunting 12.5 percent success rate.
The PBA used the quarterfinal twice-to-beat format starting the 1996 Governors Cup. The advantage is a reward for a team that finishes higher during the eliminations. In the NBA playoffs, there is no such thing as a twice-to-beat edge – a higher seed gains the homecourt advantage, nothing else. In the PBA, the homecourt advantage is irrelevant because the games are played in a common venue.
Of the eight teams that defied the odds, three were No. 8 seeds that beat top seeds – Ginebra over Mobiline in the 1999 All-Filipino Cup, San Miguel Beer over Talk ‘N’ Text in the 2002 Governors Cup and Powerade over B-Meg in the 2011-12 Philippine Cup. Ginebra accounted for two of the eight “miracles” – over Mobiline in 1999 and Purefoods in the 2001 All-Filipino Cup.
After Ginebra’s shocker over Rain Or Shine, the never-say-die franchise now holds the distinction of being the team with the most twice-to-beat handicaps to survive the playoffs. Ginebra has done it thrice.
For the record, 43 teams with a twice-to-beat advantage didn’t need another game to pull through while 14 clinched in the rematch. It’s not easy for a lower seed to survive a twice-to-beat disadvantage because that means winning two straight do-or-die games. The higher seed can afford to lose the first game, regroup, adjust and return the favor in the second even if there might have been a momentum shift.