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Beermen eye playoff bonus

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 05:30 AM February 23, 2018

San Miguel Beer tries to seal one of the top two slots when it squares off against a struggling Kia squad Friday, even as Rain or Shine and Alaska mix it up in another crucial duel in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen will miss reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and guard Alex Cabagnot as they gun for their ninth win in 11 games in the 4:30 p.m. match against the Picanto.

Fresh off a 12-day break, the Elasto Painters resume their chase for a Top 2 finish that will give them a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.

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Rain or Shine has won its last three games against Meralco, NLEX and Magnolia and Alaska coach Alex Compton acknowledged that beating the Painters will be a daunting task even after they traded Jericho Cruz to TNT for rookie Sidney Onwubere and Kris Rosales.

“Rain or Shine is playing some of their best basketball right now and they have had almost two weeks to prepare for us,” said Compton.

“I am sure they are ready and we will have to defend their excellent offense and cover a lot of ground defensively if we want to win.”

Although they are already out of the running in the race for the Top 2, the Aces, with a 6-4 slate, are raring to end a two-game slide in the 7 p.m. duel.

The Elasto Painters’ other assignments to end the elimination round include San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra with a sweep propelling them to the top 2.

Beermen coach Leo Austria hopes his wards will be on their toes as Kia, even with its sorry
1-9 record, could give them problems with Fajardo, who is still with Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup Qualifiers, unavailable for San Miguel Beer.

Fajardo is averaging a league-best 23.2 points on top of 13.67 rebounds an outing.

“Of course our target is the top 2 finish so we can’t take Kia for granted,” said Austria. “But of course, it’s better to get that No. 1 seed to have that confidence boost and momentum heading into the playoffs.”

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Cabagnot has been sidelined by a foot injury since late last month, but there’s no shortage of gunners for the Beermen with Chico Lanete stepping up.

The Picanto showed plenty of fight before dropping a 108-91 decision to GlobalPort on Wednesday.

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TAGS: Kia squad, PBA Philippine Cup, San Miguel Beer
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