Smart Araneta Coliseum
4 p.m. — San Miguel vs Blackwater
8 p.m. — Meralco vs Terrafirma
THINGS are looking good for San Miguel Beer (SMB) as it zeroes in on a coveted incentive in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals today in its elims windup against also-ran Blackwater.
By now, replacement import Bennie Boatwright should be right at home with the locals, with whom he has collaborated for half of the current four-game streak of third-running SMB (7-3).
Boatwright, who debuted last Christmas, delivered a 51-point scorcher in their 132-110 thrashing of Terrafirma last Sunday and is tipped to carry the big guns in their bid for a Top 4 seeding and win-once bonus against the skidding Bossing (1-9) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“This team has had high accolades over the past years and I’m excited to be a part of it and make a run at the playoffs,” said the former USC Trojans standout.
He won’t be alone, of course as SMB boasts a topnotch local crew led by CJ Perez, Don Trollano, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and Mo Tautuaa that can shoot the lights out themselves.
And then there’s more. Pending medical clearance, seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo may make his comeback in the 4 p.m. duel with Blackwater. Mr. Fajardo missed the last six games due to a fractured hand.
“June Mar’s doing very well, he’s recovering well and if the doctor gives him a go-signal, he could play our game against Blackwater,” said coach Jorge Gallent.
A win by Mr. Gallent’s troops puts them at 8-3 with a guaranteed twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters alongside No. 1 Magnolia (9-2) and Top 4-assured Phoenix (8-2). A loss will complicate things with Ginebra (7-3) and Meralco (7-3) threatening to take their eighth victories against separate foes.
The Bolts gun for No. 8 in the second game against another eliminated squad in Dyip (2-8).
Even if successful, however, the charges of Luigi Trillo will need either SMB or Ginebra to drop their last elims assignments against Blackwater and NLEX, respectively, and get stuck at seven wins to salvage a Top 4 position. This is due to Meralco’s inferior quotient versus the Beermen and the Gin Kings if it comes to a tiebreaker for the remaining prime slots.
“We beat Terrafirma and we wait and see. It’s still out there. We still have a chance if Ginebra or San Miguel loses,” said Mr. Trillo.
The situation could have been a lot different for Meralco had it not bungled its shot at the incentive in an 83-93 loss to Phoenix last Wednesday.
“At this point, we can’t cry over spilled milk. Move on with the Bolts versus Terrafirma,” said Mr. Trillo. — Olmin Leyba