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PBA: Beermen eye first win

Games Today
(Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Mahindra vs NLEX
7 p.m. – SMB vs Globalport

Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer seeks to break into the win column in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup today even as three other teams deadlocked under unbeaten leader Meralco eye solo second place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

SMB takes on the Globalport Batang Pier at 7 p.m. after the NLEX Road Warriors and the Mahindra Enforcers go their separate ways at 4:15 p.m.

Globalport, NLEX and Mahindra are tied with 2-1 win-loss records while the Beermen, winners of three of the last four conferences from the previous season, has the cellar all to themselves following the Star Hotshots streak-ending victory over Blackwater two days ago.

San Miguel received a rude welcome from Mahindra on the Beermen’s debut game, 102-96, at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna last week, sending off to a rocky start the league’s most dominant team last season.

The least SMB would want to do is retrace its steps in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup where the Beermen, after winning the Philippine Cup, dropped their first four games and failed to make it to the playoffs.

Going 0-2 against a team like Globalport isn’t a far-off possibility, with the Batang Pier supremely confident following back-to-back wins over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (89-85) and defending champion Tropang TNT, 108-101.

Former Jacksonville standout Calvin Warner took over from ex-Asean Basketball League import Brian Williams and immediately made his frontline presence felt with 21 rebounds on top of 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots.

The 36-year-old forward will be tested by SMB reinforcement Tyler Wilkerson, from Marshall U, and 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo as the Beermen, who rewrote PBA history by coming back from 0-3 in the Philippine Cup Finals against Alaska, seeks to reword a storyline from last year before it starts repeating itself.

The dynamic duo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle will be the main problems for the Beermen, now back to full strength with the return of playmaker Alex Cabagnot, who attended to a family emergency and missed the Mahindra game.

In the first game, NLEX will have Aldrech Ramos and KG Canaleta as prime defensive targets after Ramos went 6 of 7 from 3-point territory against SMB and Canaleta 3 of 6, while Mahindra will have its hands full trying to contain the explosive Al Thornton.

The Enforcers can depend on LA Revilla to orchestrate the offense and Karl Dehesa for extra outside threat. A cause of concern, though, could be the capability of import Augustus Gilchrist to take heavy interior pounding form Asi Taulava, Sean Anthony, Rob Reyes and Thornton.

The Road Warriors trailed through most of part of the game against Star before stepping on the gas in the fourth quarter on the way to a 106-99 win last Saturday in Biñan.