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PBA: San Miguel tests NLEX

Games Today
(Cuneta Astrodome)
4:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs NLEX
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine

The San Miguel Beermen are leaving it up to June Mar Fajardo on whether he will see action or take a much-deserved rest as they face the new-look NLEX Road Warriors tonight in the resumption of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Though he expects his three-time reigning Most Valuable Player to show up, Beermen coach Leo Austria wouldn’t mind if Fajardo skips the 4:15 p.m. opener after spending the past week playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the SEABA Championship which came to an end last night.

Gilas members Japeth Aguilar and Raymond Almazan are also doubtful for their respective teams as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, tied with San Miguel for the lead at 5-1, takes on struggling Rain or Shine in the other game set at 7 p.m.

Under the agreement forged by the PBA and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, players named to the Gilas pool were pulled from their mother teams last May 1 and are expected to return upon the conclusion of the SEABA competition.

“I’m expecting him to play, but it depends on him. Hinihintay namin siya kasi siya magdedesisyon kung maglalaro siya,” Austria yesterday said when asked about the Fajardo situation.

Fajardo missed just one game during his Gilas commitment, which happened last May 5 when the Beermen fell to a depleted TNT KaTropa, 112-103.

The KaTropa played sans Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and RR Pogoy for the same reason.

The loss was San Miguel’s first after coasting to a 5-0 start that saw Fajardo forming a fierce combo inside the shaded lane with import Charles Rhodes.

Austria is cautious that the two-week break would affect San Miguel’s play especially with NLEX beefing up its roster with the acquisitions of Alex Mallari, JR Quiñahan and Larry Fonacier in separate trades.

“Our game against NLEX is very important for us, but medyo worried ako ng konti dahil ang haba nung break. Sayang yung momentum na na-gain namin in the first five games, at yung mga players parang vacation mode, hindi yung parang maka-recharge sa time na yun e, so let’s see what will happen,” Austria said.

“Sabi ko nga we have to bounce back hard because every game is very important and our goal is to get one of the top two slots,” added Austria.

Meanwhile, Ginebra eyes its sixth straight victory after losing its tournament debut when it plays a Rain or Shine that has lost four of its last five games after a 3-0 start.

Rain or Shine will be fielding a returning import in Duke Crews in lieu of Shawn Taggart as it tries to get out of a slump and revive its bid to gain a much-better position before the playoffs.