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Bolts fight for life

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Games Today
(Cuneta Astrodome)
4:15 p.m. – Globalport vs Meralco
7 p.m. – NLEX vs San Miguel

Meralco hopes to keep the ‘Lights Out!’ sign under wraps for as long as it can.

Faced with a must-win situation in their remaining two games, the Bolts clutch at whatever straws are left to survive when they take on the Globalport Batang Pier today even as defending champion San Miguel Beer eyes solo leadership yet again in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The 12th-running Bolts (1-8) and the Batang Pier, tied at fourth spot with the TNT Tropang Texters on 5-3 win-loss cards, square off at 4:15 p.m., while the Beermen, who share first place with the Alaska Aces on 7-1 slates, hope to move closer to clinching an outright semifinal berth when they meet at 7 p.m. the NLEX Road Warriors, at seventh with Barako Bull on 4-4 records.

Only half of their fate is in the hands of the Bolts. They need to put away Globalport and its dynamic backcourt duo of Stanley Pringle and Terrence Romeo, and third-running Rain or Shine, with relentless Jericho Cruz and rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, on Dec. 16 and hope the three teams above them – 9th-placed Star Hotshots (3-6), 10th Mahindra (2-7) and 11th Blackwater (1-7) – lose their remaining games.

Star, which ended a four-game slump by holding off Mahindra, 104-96, last Sunday,has Barako Bull (Dec. 13) and Blackwater (Dec. 18) left in its elimination schedule while Mahindra still has Globalport (Dc. 12) and Blackwater (Dec. 20) to contend with.

Meralco has dropped its last three games, the last an 88-86 heartbreaker to Alaska, leaving the Bolts perhaps with little momentum to challenge Globalport which has won its two recent outings, including 96-90 against NLEX.

Eight wins out of nine, on the other hand, may not be enough to do it for San Miguel. But regaining top spot with two games left would give the defending champs all the motivation they need to win at least one of their two remaining games and bypass the killer playoffs.

On a five-game winning run, SMB takes on TNT in a marquee matchup on Dec. 12 before wrapping it up with a much-awaited showdown with Alaska on Dec. 16. The Beermen beat the Aces in seven gripping games in the 2014 Philippine Cup finals, making their first meeting this season a potential preview for another championship dance.

The Road Warriors, for their part, have not given up on their bid for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals, and veteran Asi Taulava, NLEX’s ageless wonder, would want nothing more than to put one over dominant SMB center June Mar Fajardo in keeping that hope alive.

NLEX has lost two in-a-row before this game, but the urgency of their situation could inspire the Road Warriors to break down walls and pull the rug from under the Beermen, especially if SMB comes in looking complacent and feeling good with what it has gained so far.