Co-leader San Miguel eyes its eighth consecutive win and a twice-to-beat boost in the playoffs while defending champion Star and Talk ’N Text collide in a crucial meeting today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen are expected to coast to an easy win against the Blackwater Elite in the first game at 4:15 p.m.
SMB is tied for the top spot with idle Alaska at 7-2, followed by Barako Bull (6-3) and Globalport (6-4).
TNT and Star face off in the nightcap at 7 p.m. as the two sides desperately need to win in order to gain an inside track in the race for the remaining four playoff slots.
The Tropang Texters, champions of the Commissioner’s Cup, hold the eighth spot with a 4-5 record while the Hotshots are in ninth place at 3-5.
“It’s a test for both teams to stay alive,” TNT Coach Jong Uichico said yesterday.
The eight best teams after the single-round eliminations will advance to the eliminations, with the top four earning twice-to-beat incentives.
Uichico is hoping to see his players display their A-game against Star, particularly import Steffphon Pettigrew who was a non-factor in TNT’s previous outing.
Pettigrew was held to just seven points and six rebounds after averaging nearly 23 points and 12 rebounds in his first eight games.
The struggles of Star continued last Saturday when it lost to streaking Rain or Shine, 103-88. The Hotshots need to win their last three games to stay alive.
“We thought we were moving in a positive direction but ROS stopped us in our tracks,” said Star mentor Tim Cone, whose team will rely on the leadership of former Best Import winner Marqus Blakely.
“Still, we can hang onto the fact that we’ve won two out of the last three (games), and hope that we can get going again. We know TNT is in the same boat so it’s just going to come down to who wants to battle harder,” Cone added.
Cone expects local mainstays James Yap, Marc Pingris, Joe Devance, Alex Mallari, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, Justin Melton and Rafi Reavis to step up and give support to the 6-foot-5 Blakely.