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TNT eyes solo lead

GAry David, Asi Taulava, Thornton

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
3 p.m. – Globalport vs Talk ’N Text
5:15 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Purefoods

Manila, Philippines – Defending champion Purefoods Star tries to end a three-game losing skid when it battles another struggling team today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots take on the San Miguel Beermen at 5:15 p.m. after the opening match pitting Talk ’N Text and Globalport at 3 p.m.

Purefoods actually started strong this conference by winning their first four games – the first three with Marqus Blakely as import before coach Tim Cone brought in Daniel Orton.

Last season’s Grand Slam champion, however, has dropped its last three games, including the most recent one against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with returning reinforcement Denzel Bowles having taken the place of the brash-talking Orton, who disparaged Kia player-coach Manny Pacquiao after Purefoods lost to the Carnival.

San Miguel Beer, the reigning Philippine Cup champion, is also nursing a 100-93 defeat to NLEX last Tuesday.

That gave the team a 1-5 card. The Beermen started the conference at 0-4, but snapped the skid with a victory against Meralco in Arizona Reid’s first game as he took over from the ineffective Ronald Roberts Jr.

Purefoods will try to take advantage of having the 6-foot-8 Bowles, who will be matched against SMB’s 6-foot-10 center and reigning MVP and Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo.

Former two-time MVP James Yap remains a doubtful starter for the Hotshots as he is still bothered by a knee injury which forced him to miss the game against Ginebra.

Others expected to step up for Purefoods are Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca, Joe Devance, PJ Simon, Alex Mallari and rookie Justin Melton.

As for SMB, the team will rely on the 6-foot-4 Reid, who averaged 28 points so far this conference, while providing support are former MVP Arwind Santos, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid and Alex Cabagnot.

Equally exciting is the game between TNT and Globalport, which will be aiming for its third straight win following victories against Barako Bull (99-81) and expansion team Blackwater (101-78) for a 4-3 card.

TNT, on the other hand, will be gunning for solo lead as it is currently tied on top together with Rain or Shine and Meralco, all with 5-2 records. The team will be also be looking to rebound after a stunning 106-103 setback to Kia last Wednesday.