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PBA: ROS, Aces eye semis

By Jonas Terrado

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs GlobalPort
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs Alaska

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Alaska Aces, both carrying a twice-to-beat advantage, look to make short work of their quarterfinal rivals and secure the first two semifinal berths today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Rain or Shine, which topped the elimination round, faces No. 8 GlobalPort in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser before second-ranked Alaska battles Magnolia seventh seed at 7 p.m. The two teams need just one win to advance to the best-of-five semifinals.

Focus could center on whether Rain or Shine and GlobalPort can face off in a more peaceful manner after things get heated in the fourth quarter of their lone elims meeting last May 20, with the Elasto Painters winning, 96-90.

Both teams were fined a total of R93,000 after GlobalPort import Malcolm White elbowed Chris Tiu in the lip and Rain or Shine’s Maverick Ahanmisi and then-Batang Pier cager Kelly Nabong playing their roles in a skirmish in the fourth quarter of their match.

Coach Caloy Garcia and the Elasto Painters topped the elimination round with a 9-2 record, thanks mainly to big import Reggie Johnson and the inspired play of Tiu.

Johnson is considered as one of the favorites to win the Best Import award, averaging 23.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 blocks while Tiu seems to be shrugging off retirement talks after posting 12.3 points on 41 percent made threes with 3.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.1 steals in the eliminations.

Raymond Almazan, Ahanmisi, Gabe Norwood and even James Yap have also provided steady contributions in topping the elims, but Garcia know it won’t be easy in the second phase of the midseason tourney.

“Every team in the league is really tough to beat. You really have to prepare,” said Garcia. “The only advantage we have with GlobalPort is probably the twice-to-beat advantage which we worked hard for. But of course, we want to finish it on Tuesday.”

Alaska, meanwhile, claimed the other twice-to-beat incentive despite sharing an 8-3 record with TNT KaTropa owing to a tiebreaker. The Aces overcame an indefinite suspension of Calvin Abueva and a stabbing incident that forced rookie Jeron Teng to miss a month with Vic Manuel emerging as coach Alex Compton’s newest star.