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PBA: Painters eye semis

Yeng Guiao

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Kia vs NLEX
5:15 p.m. – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine

Games Tuesday (Cuneta Astrodome)
2 p.m. – Purefoods vs Barako Bull
4:15 p.m. – Blackwater vs San Miguel
7 p.m. – Globalport vs Meralco

Red-hot Rain or Shine tries to extend its winning streak to seven games as it aims for outright semifinal berth against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in a crucial game that has several playoff consequences in the PBA Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

This will be the second to the last day of elimination round before the knockout quarterfinal playoffs starts Thursday, but only the composition of the 10 teams are certain as their placing will still have to be determined.

The encounter of ROS and Ginebra will provide half of the answer in what is expected to be another exciting finish just like the past several games in this 40th Season of the PBA.

The game between the Elasto Painters and the Kings is scheduled at 5:15 p.m., following the encounter of the Manny Pacquiao-led Kia against newcomer NLEX in the first game at 3 p.m.

Rain or Shine is now tied on top with San Miguel Beer with similar 8-2 cards after the Painters edged the Alaska Aces, 98-95, and the Beermen lost to the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters, 107-101, Friday night at the Big Dome.

The only way for ROS to make the semifinals automatically is to win opposite Ginebra since any tie will relegate the boys of Coach Yeng Guiao to the quarterfinal stage of the conference.

Guiao is well aware of the scenario and he expects his players, led by point guard Paul Lee, who averages a team-high 15 points per game this conference, to step up and get the important win.

“We’re on a six-game win streak but if we lose on Sunday, that streak will be worthless so we have to cap this (game versus Alaska) off with a win on Sunday,” said Guiao.

“We’ll just give our best again. We expect a similar game again on Sunday against Ginebra. We’re not there yet there (semis), but it’s a good jump off to Sunday’s game for greater motivation to win,” added Guiao.

The top teams after the eliminations will get outright slots to the best-of-seven semifinals, and ROS and San Miguel Beer, which will face winless expansion squad Blackwater on Tuesday, can claim if they win.

If not, in the case of Rain or Shine, it will tie with Alaska and TNT at 8-3 and using the quotient system, the Texters will advance to the semifinals. If the three-way tie is between SMB, TNT and Alaska, it will be the Aces moving to the Final Four of the tournament.

A four-way tie at 8-3 is also a possibility with ROS, TNT, SMB and Alaska, and a scenario like that will push the Aces and Texters to the semifinal round due to their superior quotients.

The game has actually no bearing for Ginebra as – win or lose – the Kings are assured already of twice-to-beat in the quarterfinals.

“The game will surely prepare us for the playoffs. Defense will be the key to make it far so that is where we will focus,” said Ginebra coach Jeff Cariaso, whose team won against Alaska (101-92) last Tuesday that snapped a three-game skid.