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4:15 p.m. – GlobalPort vs Phoenix
7 p.m. – Meralco vs SMB
Fajardo not taking Meralco lightly.
San Miguel Beermen will be the heavy favorites when they play the Meralco Bolts tonight in the PBA’s final playdate of 2016.
With just one loss in five games, the odds are tilted to the Beermen. But Junemar Fajardo, SMB’s franchise player, does not want his team to take it easy against the Bolts and warned against complacency during their 7 p.m. game at the Cuneta Astrodome.
“Mahirap naman talaga manalo kasi malalakas din ibang teams,” said Fajardo. “Kailangan namin maging mas consistent sa plays, offense and defense, kailangan namin pagtrabahuhan.”
Another victory will put San Miguel nearer to claiming the first playoff berth in the short Philippine Cup conference.
In the other game, GlobalPort seeks to join TNT KaTropa and Rain or Shine in a three-way tie for second when it battles Phoenix at 4:15 p.m. GlobalPort is in solo fourth at 3-2 while Phoenix in a four-way logjam for sixth to ninth places at 3-3.
The Beermen are well-rested as their last match came last Dec. 17 when they routed the NLEX Road Warriors, 106-80, in an out-of-town game at the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro City.
Fajardo had 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, while getting needed support from Alex Cabagnot (18 points) and Arwind Santos (15 points).
While pleased with the way the Beermen had practiced during their long break, Fajardo said they can’t afford to take the Bolts (3-2) lightly.
After a 2-1 start, Meralco dropped back-to-back games as the Bolts fell to number 10 in the standings following setbacks to Phoenix Fuel (94-90) and Alaska (81-79).
“Maganda naman yung mga naging ensayo namin past few days, so hopefully madala namin sa game. Malakas din ang Meralco, mahirap din na kalaban sila,” added Fajardo.
Despite the two straight defeats, Santos knows that Meralco is a tough team considering the experience it gained by playing in the championship round of the last Governors’ Cup where it lost to Ginebra in six games of their best-of-seven finals showdown.
“Ang laki ng in-improve ng team ng Meralco kasi ganun yata ang nagagawa nung maka-laro ng finals,” said Santos. “Kaya doble ingat kami, sa lahit kanino or sinong team ang kalaban namin.”