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SMB tests Ginebra

Games Today
(Philsports Arena)
3 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Meralco
5:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs Brgy. Ginebra

The Philippine Basketball Association bids farewell – for now – to its old haunt, the Philsports Arena (formerly ULTRA) in Pasig, with a blockbuster send-off matchup between defending champion San Miguel Beer and undisputed crowd darling Barangay Ginebra San Miguel today a quarter’s way into the elimination round of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup.

It also marks the first showdown between SMB’s June Mar Fajardo and Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter in the PBA’s 41st season.

The two shared the playing court during Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice session last Monday in preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year, sitting through an hour-long huddle with coach Tab Baldwin and joining the half-court drills afterward.

They will be on opposite ends of the court this time, however, with the bragging rights as the league’s top big man at stake. Both will be double-teamed at the post when they are not on each other, and the shooters of both teams will be working feverishly to draw some of the defense to give their respective big fella bigger room to maneuver inside.

Game time is at 5:15 p.m., with SMB seeking to disengage from a four-way tie for leadership with Rain or Shine, Alaska and Globalport on 3-1 slates. Serving an as aperitif at 3 p.m., meanwhile, is the curtainraiser between Barako Bull (1-2) and winless Meralco (0-3).

A fifth team, Talk ‘N Text (2-1), could make it atop the leader board depending on the outcome of its Petron Saturday Special game against Star Hotshots (2-2) which was ongoing at press time in Lucena City.

The Beermen are coming off a 93-83 triumph over the Blackwater Elite (1-3) last Wednesday, while the Kings, who started the conference by dropping their first two games and souring two-time Grand Slam champion coach Tim Cone’s debut at the helm, have broken into the win column via a disputed 93-92 thriller over Alaska at the Al Wasl Sports Club in Dubai last Nov. 7.