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PBA: TNT battles Ginebra

Defending champion San Miguel Beer will parade a new import in Elijah Millsap while TNT Katropa and Barangay Ginebra dispute the top spot in the quarterfinals in the PBA Governors’ Cup today at the Alonte Sports Center in Binan, Laguna.

The three teams are already assured of quarterfinal berths and are armed as well with twice-to-beat incentives, with the Texters currently on top with a 9-1 record, followed by the Kings at 8-2 and the Beermen 7-3.

The last two games in the final day of elimination round, however, has playoff repercussions as SMB clashes with also-ran Blackwater (1-9) at 4:15 p.m., while TNT and Ginebra collide at 7 p.m.

Millsap arrived last Thursday morning, returning to a team that he nearly helped capture a championship three years ago in this same conference. He will be SMB’s third reinforcement after AZ Reid and Mike Singletary.

The former two-time Best import winner Reid hurt his Achilles midway through the season-ending conference, while Singletary was brought in as temporary import by SMB management.

“We know what Elijah is capable of doing, and he knows also most of our veteran players,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “What we’re trying to do now is to incorporate him to the system.”

“Because he knows some of the guys, he’s adjusting well to the system. Our game against Blackwater is crucial because of that very reason of him playing in his first game for us,” added Austria.

In his first stint with the franchise, Millsap averaged 28.57 points and 11.38 rebounds during the 2013 Governors’ Cup, helping the then Petron Blaze Boosters reach the finals but the team lost in Game 7 to the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers – now the Star Hotshots.

Still with San Miguel that came close to winning the title with Millsap are Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid and June Mar Fajardo.

A win by SMB and a setback by Ginebra to TNT in the second game would force a two-way tie at 8-3 between the Beermen and the Kings.

Due to the winner-over-the-other rule – since San Miguel defeated Ginebra during their elimination round meeting (111-105) last Aug. 14 – Austria’s team would be seeded No. 2 while Ginebra No. 3 in the quarterfinals.

However, a victory by Ginebra will give the two teams 1-2 spots in the quarterfinal playoffs.

Both the Texters and the Kings are staking their respective win streaks, with Ginebra riding the crest of a four-game winning run as it downed Mahindra last Wednesday (93-86) while TNT has won its last three capped by a triumph over the Hotshots (115-105) last Sunday.

Meralco and Mahindra, tied at 6-5 with Alaska for fourth to sixth places, will clash Wednesday in a playoff game. The winner of the playoff gets the No. 4 slot and the last twice-to-beat bonus against the loser.

Alaska, at No. 6, meets either SMB or Ginebra, while Rain or Shine and newcomer Phoenix will decide in a playoff match also on Wednesday the eighth spot and will either face TNT or Ginebra.