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PBA: Vital matches

Terrence Watson vs Jason Ballesteros (PBA Images)

Terrence Watson vs Jason Ballesteros (PBA Images)

SMB vs Phoenix, ROS vs Alaska

By JONAS TERRADO

Games Today (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Alaska
7 p.m. – Phoenix vs San Miguel

San Miguel and Rain or Shine look to use a pair of eliminated teams as stepping stones in their quest for the twice-to-beat advantage today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Beermen can create a three-way tie for third to fifth with a win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters at 7 p.m. after the Elasto Painters try to keep their slim chances at the quarterfinal bonus against the Alaska Aces in the 4:15 p.m. opener.

SMB holds a 6-3 record, half-game behind 7-3 teams TNT KaTropa and NLEX, while Rain or Shine is tied with Star for sixth at 5-4.

Coach Leo Austria hopes to see the Beermen play consistent this time after surviving the scare of the Kia Picanto Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

San Miguel leaned on June Mar Fajardo in the fourth quarter to hold off Kia, 118-112. The reigning three-time Most Valuable Player scored 20 of his 41 points in the payoff period.

Tonight’s matchup comes before Sunday’s duel with Meralco at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, that is why the Beermen are raring to produce an impressive showing against Phoenix, a team that lost eight straight after a 2-0 start.

“I think we have a chance kasi yung mga nasa taas maglaban-laban pa. What we need to do is to win the next two games, especially Meralco,” said Austria.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine fell 89-82 to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel also Saturday, putting in peril its twice-to-beat quest.

A silver lining perhaps in that setback was the performance of Raymond Almazan, who had 20 points and eight rebounds that solidified his emerging status as one of the league’s premier centers.

The Elasto Painters have a big task at hand against the Aces, out of playoff contention for the second straight conference with a 3-7 record.

Despite that, Alaska has slowly regained its form following a nightmarish 14-game losing skid dating back to the Commissioner’s Cup, winning three straight before losing to Meralco 106-78 Friday at the Big Dome.

Rain or Shine wraps up its elimination round campaign against Blackwater on Sunday, another game that the Painters can’t afford to lose.

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