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PBA playoff race resumes

Games Tomorrow (Ynares Sports Center, Antipolo City)
4:15 p.m. – Blackwater vs Alaska
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs NLEX

It was another successful staging of the PBA All-Star held in Puerto Princesa, Palawan where players had the opportunity to experience and enjoy the annual festivities of the pro league.

Now, it’s back to reality as the race for playoff berths resumes in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup starting tomorrow with a pair of games at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Talk ’N Text currently leads all teams with a 6-2 record, half-game ahead on Rain or Shine and Meralco, which carry similar 5-2 cards while defending champion Purefoods Star sports a 5-3 slate.

Next in the standings are Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (4-3), Barako Bull (4-4), Globalport (4-4), Kia (4-5), NLEX (3-4), Alaska (2-5), Blackwater (2-6) and reigning Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer (2-6).

Only the top eight teams advance into the quarterfinals.

The top two earn twice-to-beat incentives against the seventh and eighth qualifiers, while the third to sixth teams will play in the crossover best-of-three series.

Chito Salud, the newly appointed PBA president, said the remaining games in the elimination round will be exciting.

“The middle to bottom teams will make a big push as we resume our games, all hoping to make the playoffs. So it’s going to be exciting for the teams, the players anf the fans,” said Salud.

Rain or Shine – together with Purefoods – had the most number of participants during the All-Star Weekend with six as Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga suited up for the victorious North Team that won, 166-161, last Sunday against the South Team, which has Jeff Chan.

Also, two ROS players Chris Tiu and Raymind Almazan participated in last Friday’s Skills Event and Rookie/Sophomore game.

“Focus na uli sa game and sa pag-ensayo. Nag-enjoy kami ng husto sa All-Star this year, pero ngayon balik na sa trabaho. Sa amin, sa Rain or Shine kailangan maibalik yung timing ng buong team kasi anim kaming nawala sa team na nasa All-Star, so importante na ma-regain namin yun,” said Lee.

“Kailangan talaga naming trabahuhin yun kung gusto namin na makuha yung advantage na twice-to-beat. Wala namang madali sa PBA e, kailangan paghirapan lahat,” Lee added.

Rain or Shine has won its last three, including the previous two since replacing import Rick Jackson by re-hiring Wayne Chism. The Elasto Painters’ remaining four games are against SMB on Friday, Ginebra on Sunday, Blackwater in March 20 and Kia on March 22.

Former two-time MVP James Yap, who played for the South Team, said it was another privilege for him to be voted as an All-Star by the fans, the very reason he said why he enjoyed participating in this yearly event.

“Sabi nga ni coach Tim (Cone) sa amin before kami umalis papuntang Palawan, enjoy lang namin itong All-Star and i-accommodate namin yung mga fans, kasi yun naman ang purpose ng All-Star Weekend e, to give back sa fans ng PBA,” said Yap, whose teammates Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, Joe Devance and Justin Melton were also part of the PBA gathering.

TNT rookie Kevin Alas, for his part, said that now that his first PBA All-Star experience is over, it’s time to buckle down back to work – not only for him but for his teammates Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro and fellow rookie Matt Rosser-Ganuelas.

“We need to be in tip-top shape, kasi medyo mabigat yung last three games, so we really need to prepare. Hindi pa talaga namin nakukuha yung gusto namin na form e, so we have to work extra hard,” said Alas.