By Jonas Terrado
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Phoenix
6:45 p.m. – San Miguel vs TNT KaTropa
Rain or Shine tries to close in on a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals while TNT KaTropa and defending champion San Miguel clash in their bid to rebound from midweek defeats today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elasto Painters gun for their eighth victory in nine games when they meet the skidding Phoenix Fuel Masters in the opener of the Petron Saturday Special at 4:30 p.m. while the KaTropa and Beermen collide at 6:45 p.m. in a duel pitting teams that met in the finals of last season’s midseason tourney.
Coach Caloy Garcia and his Rain or Shine squad are trying to earn a quarterfinal bonus for the first time since the departure of fiery mentor Yeng Guiao two years ago, thanks to the splendid plays of import Reggie Johnson, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan, Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga.
Garcia, however, wants to see his team display with a winning mentality after Rain or Shine endured scary moments against lowly Blackwater last June 8 before a barrage of threes by Tiu in the fourth quarter led to a 104-94 triumph.
Phoenix will try to deal Rain or Shine a stinging setback despite entering the game having lost three consecutive games and dropping out of the top eight with a 3-5 record.
Not even Matthew Wright’s impressive stretch in the past two games, averaging 30 points spiked by 9-of-18 triples, has propelled the Fuel Masters from their current slump. Coach Louie Alas is hoping that Wright can get enough support this time.
The curtainraiser could be overshadowed by the marquee clash between San Miguel and TNT, a game that has all the markings of a potential finals rematch.
Despite struggling at 3-4 following a 98-94 loss to GlobalPort last Wednesday, the Beermen remain a team capable of winning a second straight crown given their talented roster.
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