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PBA: Globalport tests Kia cagers today

Uyloan and Kevin Alas

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Kia vs Globalport
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Blackwater

The winner will be in distinguished company, sharing a 2-2 slate with Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine in the middle of the standings. The loser, on the other hand, will be a foot away from getting buried deep.

Survival isn’t necessarily the name of the game just yet when the Kia Sorento and the Globalport Batang Pier tangle today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but a victory would offer a vital lifeline.

Gametime is at 4:15 p.m. followed by the 7 p.m. encounter between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Blackwater, a test for the Kings and an opportunity for the Elite.

All four teams are coming off defeats, with the Blackwater Elite dropping three in a row, two of them after leading in double digits at one point.

The Sorento, with playing-coach Manny Pacquiao still in their midst, rallied mightily to beat the Elite, 80-66, on opening day at the mammoth Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, but had since absorbed crushing back-to-back setbacks.

The Batang Pier, on the other hand, stayed the coming of midnight for coach Pido Jarencio by turning back Barako Bull, 91-81. But they squandered a big lead against Grand Slam champion Purefoods Star and wound up losing, 81-75, raising fears the gallows is once more being readied.

Pacquiao will be missing his third Kia game as he prepares for his coming world championship fight in Macau later this month, but assistant coach Glenn Capacio is confident the Sorento slowly learning what it takes to compete in the big league and can pull off some surprises along the way.

Globalport could fall victim to the Sorento if it again fails to assert itself in the stretch, the way it did against the Purefoods Hotshots.

Alex Cabagnot was a hot hand in the third quarter that game but practically no other Batang Pier came through to back him up in the fourth, especially when Purefoods’ Mark Barroca took control.

The NLEX Road Warriors, behind a rejuvenated Mark Cardona and an apparently unbreakable zone defense, meanwhile, exposed every bit of flaw in the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, 97-81, casting some doubts on the crowd darling’s ability to end years of championship drought this conference.

Blackwater could be a good opponent as any for Ginebra to get back on track. But the Elite have been burned once too often and are due for a big game anytime, a feat that coach Leo Isaac would savor if it happens against his former ballclub.

The Elite, most likely, would plant themselves in a 2-3 zone to negate the presence of 6-foot-11 Gregg Slaughter and the Kings’ wobbly triangle offense, inviting Ginebra to beat them from the outside.

If the ball moves around fast enough for Ginebra to attack the gaps and for Slaughter to re-post, then the Elite could be in trouble. If it stays stagnant, Blackwater could have a shot at a breakout win. (Tito S. Talao)