by Waylon Galvez
Game Today (Xavier University,
Cagayan de Oro City)
5 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Meralco
Injured Beermen Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross will join the team when they play Meralco in Cagayan de Oro today although it is uncertain whether they will play in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup out of town game at the Xavier University gym.
Lassiter and Ross have missed the last two games but their trip means they can be called upon if necessary in the 5 p.m. showdown with the Bolts.
A win by San Miguel will put them inside the top four with three games left, and Coach Biboy Ravanes is confident his team can extend the streak to three matches.
“We just want to ride on our momentum from last game,” said Ravanes, who shares coaching responsibility with American consultant Todd Purves. “We also have to start strong to solidify our current ranking.”
The Beermen are tied with Air21 for fourth place at 4-2, less than a game behind defending champion San Mig Super Coffee, Talk ‘N Text and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, all tied at 4-1 at presstime.
San Mig and Talk ‘N Text were playing Alaska and Globalport, respectively, at the Cuneta Astrodome last night, while Ginebra won’t play until tomorrow against Rain or Shine in Binan, Laguna.
Despite the absence of Lassiter (leg) and Ross (calf), San Miguel drew a sensational performance from 6-foot-10 center June Mar Fajardo who had 26 points and a career-high 27 rebounds in the Beermen’s 102-99 victory over Globalport last Tuesday.
Import Reggie Williams, Arwind Santos and Sol Mercado also performed well in that comeback win that saw SMB erasing a 17-point deficit.
SMB is favored against Meralco, which is tied with Barako Bull at bottom with a 1-5 card, but Ravanes has warned the players to avoid complacency.
“Meralco’s standing does not define who they are,” said Ravanes. “They have a dominant import in Mario West and with Mike Cortez coming in, he has already adjusted well.”
Bolts’ mentor Ryan Gregorio said they are out to do whatever it takes for them to advance to the next round.
The Bolts barged into the win column with a thrilling 88-87 victory over Alaska last Saturday but were brought back to earth with an 80-67 defeat to Air21 three days later.
It marked the first time that Air21 beat Meralco after 10 meetings since the former’s inaugural season in 2011.
Bolts’ mentor Ryan Gregorio said they will do whatever it takes for them to advance to the next round.
“The game plan is to do whatever it takes for us to salvage our conference,” said Gregorio. “All is not lost, we can still make it, but we have to start winning. We are coming off a frustrating offensive meltdown. Defensively, we were ok. We just have to strike a solid balance on both ends of the floor.”