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PBA: Meralco, Star eye semis duel

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Blackwater
vs Meralco
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Star

Meralco and Star want to capitalize on their come-from-behind victories over the weekend and forge a semifinal duel as playoff basketball in the PBA Governors’ Cup kicks off today with the first of its two quarterfinal doubleheaders at the Mall of Asia Arena.

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Star tries to beat NLEX for the second time in three days as they usher in the start of the quarters in the first game at 4:15 p.m. before top seed Meralco looks to make short work of eighth-ranked Blackwater at 7 p.m.

The other quarterfinal matches are scheduled at the same venue tomorrow, with No. 2 TNT KaTropa meeting No. 7 Rain or Shine and No. 3 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel playing No. 6 San Miguel.

Both teams rallied from double-digit deficits to post thrilling wins at the conclusion of the elims Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Star came back from 15 down in the second quarter and outplayed NLEX in the second half for a 101-93 win that also gave Meralco the twice-to-beat advantage.

The Hotshots later secured the twice-to-beat bonus with the help of the Bolts, who produced a shock 104-101 triumph over the Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beermen despite trailing by 18 in the third.

Meralco also secured the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, a breakthrough feat for the franchise that began in 2010. The Bolts, however, are bracing for a tough challenge against the Elite.

Blackwater overcame a 0-3 start behind import Henry Walker to reach the playoffs for just the second time in team history.

“They don’t give you trophies for being No. 1 in the regular season. We gotta keep doing work and we have a No. 1 goal in mind and that’s to be champs,” said reigning Best Import Allen Durham, who scored 25 of his 35 points in the second half to complete Meralco’s comeback against San Miguel.

Meanwhile, the Hotshots are perhaps thanking their lucky stars that they’re able to sneak out a twice-to-beat slot after a seesaw ride in the eliminations. However, the Road Warriors are eager to prove that their loss over the weekend was caused by self-inflicted mistakes.

“We don’t plan to stay contented with this conference. We will keep on dreaming that we’ll make the next round, which is the semifinals,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, who steered the team to the quarters in just his third conference since leaving Rain or Shine last year.

“(The) 7-4 (record) is not a bad finish, and konting bwenas lang, baka madisgrasya namin ng twice-to-beat, we’re not losing that hope. All we need is play well on Tuesday, think of that game first, and if we survive that, then I guess we can dream about making the next round in our second attempt.”