New import for SMB
With just two wins separating the top six teams, the race to one of four playoff slots carrying a crucial quarterfinal bonus will expectedly be a tough one.
That puts added weight on the match between TNT and Barangay Ginebra on Friday, with the Kings hoping to drag the league-leading KaTropa lower into an even fiercer dogfight for the top four slots.
San Miguel Beer, meanwhile, sitting precariously at fourth spot, isn’t taking any chances as the Beermen prepare to take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Saturday in a road game in Cebu.
Prolific import Dez Wells continues to be sidelined due to a foot injury and not even a 99-96 victory over Blackwater on Wednesday could convince the Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel to play all-Filipino for a second straight match.
The Beermen are bringing in former Cleveland Cavalier John Holland to reinforce their roster while Wells loiters on the injured list.
“We’re hoping we can fix the paperwork for Holland tomorrow [in time for Saturday],” said coach Leo Austria in a report published on the league’s official website. San Miguel is expecting Holland to arrive on Friday.
“Wells told us that he can’t play Saturday so we got a backup. We can’t afford to play without an import for the second time,” Austria added.
Without Wells, the Beermen relied on five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo against Blackwater and the 6-foot-10 responded with 30 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes against the Elite.
Holland has big shoes to fill in as Wells averaged 37.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks a game before his injury.
The Kings are in for a rumble against the KaTropa as the conference is shaping up to be a footrace to the crown among teams affiliated with the two major conglomerates in the league.
TNT is tied with the lead with sister team NLEX at 7-1, with Meralco, which also operates under the Manny V. Pangilinan group, at third with a 6-2 card. The Bolts also play on Friday as they face the Columbian Dyip at 4:30 p.m.
The Beermen, the flagship crew of San Miguel Corp. under Ramon S. Ang, are fourth at 6-3, with sister squads Ginebra (5-3) and Magnolia (5-4) behind.
Wins by TNT and Meralco will solidify both teams’ positions inside the top four, which offers twice-to-beat protection in the quarterfinals.
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