League-leading SMB battles Elite

FOLLOWING more than a week-long break, the Philippine Basketball Association resumes action today with a fiery double-header in the continuing 2017 Philippine Cup.

League-leading San Miguel Beer (5-1) looks to tighten its grip on first place but dangerous Blackwater (4-3) stands in its way. The two squads meet at 7 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Prior to that, two teams on the slump and in dire need of a win clash. GlobalPort (3-3) and Meralco (2-4) figure in a 4:15 p.m. tussle in the league’s first game of the year.

Another win for the defending champion Beermen, who are on a two-game winning streak, will virtually guarantees a seat in the quarterfinals as they keep their place at the top.

“We have to start the year on a winning note and continue being consistent,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.

In their last outing, the Beermen had an easy time dismantling Meralco, 101-86, in 2016’s final game last Dec. 28 where Marcio Lassiter played his best game of the tournament so far with 21 points.

One downside for the Beermen is the unavailability of star guard Alex Cabagnot, who is currently recuperating from a broken nose that he suffered in the team’s last game against the Bolts.

In his absence, San Miguel’s other point guards, Chris Ross, RR Garcia and Brian Heruela are expected to collectively fill the void left by Cabagnot.

The Elite, on the other end, will enter its clash against San Miguel hoping to bounce back from a disappointing, 93-97, to Mahindra in an upset last Christmas day.

Both Meralco and GlobalPort are facing must-win situations as they are currently riding losing streaks.

The Bolts are looking to arrest a three-game slide while the Batang Pier is on a two-game skid of its own.

The San Miguel Beermen will be looking to follow up their rousing, 101-86, victory over Meralco at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City last year.

Lassiter finished with a team-high 21 points to lead the Beermen to victory.  Cabagnot scored 17 of his 20 in the first half before being sidelined by an injury. Ross added 18 points and six steals, as the Beermen led the standings with a 5-1 record.

Meralco’s executed its game plan perfectly. They threw multiple defenders at June Fajardo and dared San Miguel to beat them from the outside.

The ploy worked but Meralco still lost. With Fajardo double teamed inside multiple Beermen gunners were left open. Lassiter and the other Beermen drained their outside shots to post the decisive victory.

Topics: Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup , San Miguel Beer , Blackwater , Mall of Asia Arena
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