Phoenix, SMBeer seek key victories
The PBA Philippine Cup is about to plunge into a long conference break to give the national team time to prepare for crucial Fiba World Cup qualifying matches.
And two teams in particular want to enter that rest period carrying some winning feeling. But it’s not going to be easy.
Phoenix Pulse looks for a sixth straight victory while defending champion San Miguel Beer tries to keep its slate above .500 when the two teams clash against separate opponents Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters begin feeling out the tougher part of their schedule when they tangle with Rain or Shine, the team nipping at their heels, at 4:30 p.m., and coach Louie Alas is hoping that the Painters will come in weary after having to fend off NorthPort late Friday night.
“We’re now in the phase where were are taking on the elite teams,” Alas said shortly after fending off NLEX, 83-82, on Friday. “We’re going to start with Rain or Shine. Good thing, they’re also coming off back-to-back games.”
The Painters, who labored to a come-from-behind 107-100 victory over the Batang Pier, are just half a game behind the Fuel Masters and can overtake their foes for the tournament lead with a victory.
The Beermen, meanwhile, are already computing possibilities after squaring their win-loss record to 3-3.
“Mathematically, we still have a chance,” said coach Leo Austria said on San Miguel Beer’s chances of grabbing a playoff incentive.
The champion coach added that the team is breathing a little bit easier right now after a dominant showing against Blackwater erased the bitter taste of back-to-back losses.
“We all know our team has an abundance o talent,” he said. “But talent is useless if there’s no effort.”
The Beermen battle the Magnolia Hotshots in the second game.
Meanwhile, Kevin Ferrer helped key an early breakaway and Scottie Thompson made it a homecoming to remember as Barangay Ginebra routed Blackwater, 85-67, in a Petron Saturday Special in Digos City, Davao del Sur.
Thompson had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to anchor Ginebra’s charge. The Kings were never in trouble after taking a 44-28 lead at the half, with Ferrer pumping in half of his 14 points early to grease the hot start.
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