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PBA: SMB out to end skid vs Phoenix

By Jonas Terrado

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Meralco
7 p.m. – Phoenix vs San Miguel

The Phoenix Fuel Masters could legitimize their growing reputation as a potential title contender if they beat the struggling San Miguel Beermen tonight in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Phoenix goes for its seventh win in nine games in the match set at 7 p.m. as it aims to enhance its bid to secure a top four finish given to the top four teams after the elimination round of the season-ending conference.

Coach Louie Alas’ squad carries a superior record over the Beermen, who are in an unusual situation of survival mode with a 2-4 record marred by three consecutive defeats.

June Mar Fajardo’s absence due to an injured right shin has obviously affected San Miguel’s play this conference but Alas still sees them as a team still capable of preventing Phoenix from taking another major step.

Meeting in the 4:30 p.m. opener are Meralco and NorthPort, teams looking to score their second win and keep a slim hope of making the quarters.

Meralco has lost five straight after winning its opening assignment while NorthPort ended a 0-6 start Saturday by frustrating Columbian Dyip behind a massive fourth quarter onslaught.

Scoring a win over the Beermen puts the Fuel Masters in a good position to claim a top four, with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on top at 7-1 and Magnolia in second at 6-1.

Magnolia, behind new dads Paul Lee and Jio Jalalon, frustrated Blackwater, 133-99, Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome. The Elite fell to a tie for fourth with the Fuel Masters at 6-2.

Fuel Masters import Eugene Phelps, who is coming off a 51-point performance two nights ago with a 123-97 rout of NLEX also at Cuneta, is expected to once again provide the needed production against the Beermen.

Phelps is averaging 32.8 points, 17.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks this conference.

Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins and LA Revilla are also seen to continue their solid plays in order to weather San Miguel’s star-studded lineup.

Despite missing Fajardo, the Beermen remain talented in every position behind rookie Christian Standhardinger, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos.

Kevin Murphy, who replaced original import Arizona Reid, is averaging 41 points in his first two games wearing the SMB uniform.