(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Globalport vs Barako Bull
7 p.m. – Star vs Ginebra
Veteran forward Arwind Santos feels relieved and is thankful that San Miguel avoided a playoff match with Alaska but doesn’t mind reporting for practice for seven straight days to ensure that all the players don’t get out of the zone in time for the semifinal round of the Smart Bro Philippine Cup.
“Nakikita ko naman sa mga kakampi ko na andun yung determinasyon tuwing ensayo namin,” said Santos.
San Miguel Beer mentor Leo Austria conducted his seventh straight practice session yesterday at the Green Meadows gym in Pasig City, but has given the team a two-day break today and tomorrow for the players and the coaching staff to enjoy Christmas Day.
Training will resume on Saturday and will continue until Wednesday, before the team takes another two-day rest to celebrate the New Year. SMB will return to practice on Jan. 2 or two days before the start of the semifinals on Jan. 4.
San Miguel and Alaska finished tied for the best record this conference with identical 9-2 cards – avoiding a playoff game against each other after NLEX stunned Rain or Shine (111-106) last Saturday that gave the Elasto Painters an 8-3 slate after the elimination round.
A three-way tie at 9-2 would have given RoS the No. 1 spot in the playoffs and the first outright semifinal spot, while Alaska and San Miguel would have figured in a dangerous playoff for the No. 2 seed and second automatic berth in the Final Four.
But with the loss of RoS, Alaska and SMB clinched instead the 1-2 slots and the outright berths in the semifinals.
“Baka imbes na nae-enjoy namin yung Pasko, e nag-lalaro kami. Kaya masaya na nasa semifinals na kami, at least nagagawa namin na konting pasyal with the family, nae-enjoy yung Pasko, hindi yung ang isip namin nasa game, tapos masakit pa kung matatalo diba… kaya happy na semifinals na,” added Santos.
The league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2013 said the most important thing for SMB – particularly the players – is to stay in shape, saying: “Hindi kasi maiiwasan yung mga handaan ngayong ka-Paskuhan, medyo hinay-hinay siguro.”
San Miguel Beer will face the winner of the quarterfinal bracket that features Rain or Shine, Talk ’N Text, NLEX, and Blackwater. The Painters and the Tropang Texters carry twice-to-beat advantage opposite the Elite and the Road Warriors in the first stage of playoffs on Saturday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.