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PBA: Do or die for NLEX vs SMB

By JONAS TERRADO

Game Today
(Calasiao, Pangasinan)
5 p.m. – San Miguel vs NLEX

The defending champions San Miguel Beermen aim for their fifth win in six outings when they face the NLEX Road Warriors in Calasiao, Pangasinan in today’s lone PBA Commissioner’s Cup match.

San Miguel hopes to raise its game to another level in the 5 p.m. Petron Saturday Special match with the struggling NLEX side that is facing a do-or-die situation.

Coach Leo Austria and the rest of the Beermen will welcome Kelly Nabong to the mix after the temperamental big man was acquired from GlobalPort in exchange for veteran forward Gabby Espinas last Thursday.

Nabong gives San Miguel an added frontline support for import Renaldo Balkman and reigning four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo.

At presstime, SMB is running in fifth place at 4-4 following last week’s massive 99-94 win over TNT KaTropa, half-game ahead of 4-5 teams GlobalPort, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia.

GlobalPort was playing Columbian last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen are favored to continue their winning ways against the Road Warriors, who are near at the bottom of the standings at 2-7.

But Austria said his team can’t take for granted NLEX, which needs to win its remaining two elimination round matches to stay in quarterfinal contention.

NLEX’s campaign has marred by a lackluster start, the absence of Kevin Alas to a knee injury and an 18-month suspension handed to rookie sensation Kiefer Ravena last month.

The Road Warriors also lost veteran shooter Larry Fonacier after hurting his rib during an out-of-town game against Ginebra two weeks ago in Legazpi City.

Not even the splendid showing of import Arnett Moultrie, who is averaging 28.3 points in eight games this conference, has helped NLEX fix its woes.

Arwind Santos, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot will be tasked to provide most of the firepower for San Miguel while NLEX looks to get most of its local production from Emman Monfort, JR Quinahan, Cyrus Baguio and Alex Mallari.

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