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PBA: Rain or Shine, Meralco try to catch Ginebra

Marc Pingris

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
5:45 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Meralco
8 p.m. – Petron vs San Mig Coffee

Manila, Philippines – Second-running teams Rain or Shine and Petron Blaze are seeking to put more pressure not just on each other but on league-leader Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Tied with 9-3 win-loss cards, the Elasto Painters and the Boosters meet separate opponents today in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, determined to stay on track for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinal playoffs while waiting for the Kings (10-2) to make one big mistake.
Something as huge as the one the Kings made against zone-playing Barako Bull last Monday before diminutive Emman Monfort bailed them out.

Rain or Shine, coming off an exhilarating 90-88 win over defending champion Talk ‘N Text where JR Quinahan and Beau Belga threw their weight around for 19 and 16 points, respectively, takes on Meralco (5-7) at 5:45 p.m., while Petron, which routed Globalport, 98-87, last Friday, battles San Mig Coffee (5-7) at 8 p.m.

While bragging rights in the knockout phase of the conference are in store for both Rain or Shine and Petron, survival and staying above water will be the motivating force for Meralco and San Mig.

One slip by either the Bolts or the Mixers will send them tumbling back to the cellar where three teams – Barako Bull (5-8), Globalport (5-8) and Alaska (4-9) – can’t wait to get their hands on them.

Air21, at 10th spot with a 3-10 slate, had kissed its playoffs bid goodbye earlier.

Meralco fought off Alaska, 74- 65, Friday, while San Mig ousted Air21, 67-60.

Rain or Shine turned back Meralco, 94-89, on Nov. 22, with Belga unloading 20 points in snuffing out Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Reynel Hugnatan. The E-Painters’ burly center will have his hands full this time, however, with the recent addition of the back-to-back MVP Danny Ildefonso on the Bolts lineup.

Meralco has won its last two games since singing up lldefonso to a one-conference deal.

“We had a lot of trouble putting them away in our first meeting, and I’m sure they know that. They don’t have [Mike] Cortez now, but [Jared] Dillinger is playing well. They also have Danny I, who has been a factor for them since he joined the team,” said ROS coach Yeng Guiao.

San Mig will be out for revenge as well after it absorbed a 91-78 loss to Petron on Nov. 27, with June Mar Fajardo dominating his Mixers counterparts with 21 points and 25 rebounds. Arwind Santos added 17 points.

The Mixers led 22-17 after the first quarter. But the Boosters stormed ahead in the second with a 27-12 assault to be on their way to a 3-0 record while handing San Mig its third consecutive loss.

“We’re responding and playing a little better, but we’ll have to find out if that’s enough to beat a team amongst the leaders like Petron,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone. “Needless to say, we’re still in a must-win situation, so we have little margin for error. We have to be ready.”