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PBA: Bolts, Aces eye No. 2

PUREFOODS guard Mark Barroca (right) falls on top of San Miguel Beer’s Ronald Tubid while trying to contest the looseball during PBA action Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Beermen won, 87-80. (Tony Pionilla)

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Meralco vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Alaska

Meralco and Alaska, coming off contrasting victories on their debut, eye a share of leadership with two others when they take on separate opponents today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts face winless newcomer Blackwater at 4:15 p.m., while the Aces meet Talk ‘N Text at 7 p.m.

There’s room enough for four on top with 2-0 leaders Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and San Miguel Beer should Meralco and Alaska prevail.

Meralco is coming off a 112-108 double overtime struggle over Barako Bull, while Alaska, behind coach Alex Compton, plastered Grand Slam champion and five-peat driven Purefoods Star, 93-73.

The game marked an important breakthrough for Compton against Purefoods mentor Tim Cone, who led the Aces to 13 championships before moving over to the SMC-owned ballclub.The Elite dropped their inaugural game against fellow neophyte Kia Cars, 80-66, before a huge crowd of more than 52,000 at the mind-blowing Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan and then fought tooth-and-nail prior to falling to Rain or Shine, 82-75.

The Tropang Texters, on the other hand, badly missed the services of key players Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo, both Gilas Pilipinas mainstays, in the opener against Barangay Ginebra, 101-81. De Ocampo was reactivated for TNT’s second game and played important though limited minutes in a 103-81 romp of the NLEX Road Warriors.

It was the first win of 9-time PBA champion Jong Uichico, who took over the head coaching job of TNT from Black during the off-season.

The Blackwater-Meralco game will come down as the first meeting between the team and two- time MVP Danny Ildefonso, who the Elite drafted highly from the expansion pool but later released to the Bolts owing to a reported contract disagreement.

The Bolts will be relying ton Jared Dillinger, Reynel Hugnatan, Gary David, Rey Guevarra, Sean Anthony, Cliff Hodge and Ildefonso, while the Elite will be bannered by Alex Nuyles, Sunday Salvacion, Paul Artadi, Eddie Laure and Riego Gamalinda.

For TNT, it will be Kelly Williams, KG Canaleta, Jayson Castro, rookie Matt Ganuela, recent acquisition Jay Washington, Larry Fonacier and De Ocampo, while heading the cast for Alaska are Sonny Thoss, Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros, Jvee Casio, rookie Chris Banchero, Calvin Abueva and former MVP Eric Menk.