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PBA: Vital matches

3 teams out to fan playoff chances

By JONAS TERRADO

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs Meralco
7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs GlobalPort

The Phoenix Fuel Masters, TNT KaTropa and GlobalPort Batang Pier hope to stay out of the danger zone tonight as they go for crucial wins in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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Phoenix plays a Meralco side that is staring at another potential early exit in the all-Filipino tournament in the first game at 4:30 p.m. before TNT and GlobalPort square off at 7 p.m. with the winner gaining a momentary entry into the top eight.

All three teams can’t afford to lose at this point of the elimination round, with every game likely to determine their fate.

The Fuel Masters are in seventh place with an even 4-4 record, with the KaTropa and Batang Pier following suit at 4-5 and 3-4, respectively.

But coach Louie Alas’ team enter the game with momentum on their hands after last week’s thrilling win over TNT at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Matthew Wright linked up with veteran Doug Kramer for a game-winning basket that gave Phoenix a 74-72 triumph over TNT.

Alas said they can’t put their guard down after that big win since a defeat would hamper his team’s quest to secure a place inside the third to sixth seeds in the playoffs.

The top two teams after the eliminations hold the twice-to-beat advantage against the seventh and seeds while the No. 3 to No. 6 squads play a crossover best-of-three series.

“We still have three more games. Ang medyo concern ko dito after a big win is parang nagdi-dip yung performance namin,” said Alas, whose Fuel Masters also play Blackwater on Feb. 21 and GlobalPort on March 2.

Phoenix, which will miss LA Revilla after being placed on the injured list when he hurt his hand against TNT, is hard-pressed to beat Meralco, a 2-6 team now in desperate mode after losing its last three games, including a heartbreaking 87-85 defeat to NLEX on rookie Kiefer Ravena’s jumper Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Meanwhile, TNT seeks to snap a two-game skid opposite a well-rested GlobalPort team playing for the first time since a 105-98 overtime setback to Alaska last Feb. 4 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The KaTropa are smarting from Sunday’s 93-78 defeat to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at the Big Dome and could still play minus Troy Rosario, who was given a rest the last time after a hard fall against Phoenix.

GlobalPort tries to inflict more damage on TNT with Stanley Pringle leading the charge for coach Pido Jarencio.

Jarencio recently shore up his roster by signing free agent Jeric Teng, his former player at University of Santo Tomas.

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