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PBA: SMB vs Ginebra

SLAUGHTER and Fajardo

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
3 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Kia
5:15 p.m. – SMB vs Barangay Ginebra

Barako Bull versus Kia Motors. This game should determine which team goes from the frying pan to the fire in the PBA Philippine Cup, which ballclub gets an invite to the dance or is left out in the cold.

Gametime is at 3 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum before the 5:15 p.m. blockbuster showdown between No. 2 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (5-1) and No. 3 San Miguel Beer (4-1), where both teams could trade places or maintain the status quo behind unbeaten leader Alaska.

The second game will be highlighted by the first 40th season collision between SMB’s June Mar Fajardo and Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, a titanic clash that should rock the Big Dome down to its foundation.

But as earth-shaking as that encounter could prove to be, the gripping drama belongs to the curtain-raiser where Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Sorento gun for a virtual slot in the quarterfi nals, if all things stay equal, and probably plane and venue tickets to Macau for their playing-coach’s coming WBO welterweight championship fight against American Chris Algieri.

Barako Bull would love nothing than to lay waste to that grand plan.

The Sorento are at 10th spot with a 1-5 win-loss record, while the Energy are at 11th, having lost all five of their games halfway through the elimination round. Hard-lucked Blackwater Elite, who had a big lead over Kia during the inaugural but squandered the advantage before a mammoth crowd of nearly 56,000 at the Philippine Arena, bring up the rear with 0-6 slate.

As things stand, a victory here by the Sorento would put them in good stead for the 10th spot in the playoffs where they will take on the twice-to-beat No. 3 seed for a seat in the knockout quarterfi nal stage. A loss, however, would lead to serious repercussions, with Barako Bull, if neither gets a second win, probably making it.

The top two teams after the elims advance to the semifinals outright, while the bottom two exit through the backdoor. The 3rd-6th qualifiers wield twice-to-beat edge when they take on the 7th-10th teams in the first phase of the playoffs. Kia has its hand firmly on the knob right now, keeping both Barako Bull and Blackwater shivering in the elements. A Barako Bull victory, however, would bring in a gust of wind and swing the door open.

With Kia at the receiving end of a couple of 30-point losses, any team that finishes tied with the Sorento for 10th place could be as good as in. Glenn Capacio, the acting coach knows this, and so does Pacquiao, who reportedly dangled tickets to his fight if his players snap out of the losing streak.

This was bared by Kia team manager Eric Pineda to Spin.ph sportswriter Richard Dy.

So as they say, the plot thickens.

The Sorento are coming off a 69-56 loss to the Alaska Aces, while the Energy have just absorbed a 94-75 beating from Barangay Ginebra. Whoever emerges from this one therefore would own the bragging rights moving to the second half of the eliminations.