DEFENDING champion San Miguel Beer will try to keep in step with its fellow teams at the top of the standings when it looks to bounce back during the resumption of the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
The Beermen (4-2) are hoping to get back to their winning ways when they face longtime rival Alaska Aces (2-4), which have been uncharacteristically struggling, at 7 p.m. in a titanic showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Less than three hours before to that, a sibling rivalry heats up as the Meralco Bolts (4-3) and the NLEX Road Warriors (3-3) duel at 4:15 p.m. in an important tussle of teams in the middle of the pack.
After being in solo second place for a time last week, the Beermen were ambushed by streaking GlobalPort Batang Pier as they yielded a 98-92 decision last Friday.
Currently, San Miguel is in solo fourth place and is aching to gain a piece of second with a victory and tie Barangay Ginebra and the Mahindra Enforcer, both at 5-2, behind league-leading TNT KaTropa (6-0).
Remaining in the top four is the main priority of the Beermen. Teams which finish there earn a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals against the lower ranked squads.
“We lost a hard game against GlobalPort the last time and we’re hoping we can follow up with a win so that we can remain in the top four,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
A big concern for San Miguel is the injury and availability of do-it-all import AZ Reid.
The team confirmed that Reid has an injured achilles heel and is hurt at the moment. He is a game-time decision. The Beermen will play with Reid or go All-Filipino depending on how he feels come game time.
The Aces, surprisingly struggling for most of the tournament, saw a ray of light in their last game after they scored a huge morale-boosting win over the Star Hotshots, 85-69, in Panabo, Davao Del Norte last Saturday.
With the victory Alaska returned into contention in the hunt for a quarterfinals berth. Aces coach Alex Compton hopes that the team’s regained defensive energy can be maintained moving forward.
“We’ve talked about having this defensive mindset and getting back to defending well because we’re the worst in the league in defense this conference. We were able to do that against Star and that’s what we need to keep doing to get more wins,” said Compton.
The Bolts and the Road Warriors are both coming off contrasting victories heading to their encounter against each other.
While Meralco had an easy time against Blackwater, 105-90, last week, NLEX had a hard time against the Enforcer on the same playdate before carving a thrilling 82-81 escape.
The Road Warriors are on a two-game winning streak while the Bolts have alternated wins and losses in their last several games.\
(Smart Araneta Coliseum):
4:15 p.m. - NLEX vs. Meralco
7 p.m. - San Miguel vs. Alaska
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