By Jonas Terrado
(Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Columbian
6:45 p.m. – San Miguel vs Alaska
San Miguel Beer’s chances of turning things around and gain a top four finish at the end of the eliminations could be decided tonight when it battles an Alaska side seeking to keep pace with the leaders in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Beermen try to snap a two-game skid and climb in the middle of the pack in the 6:45 p.m. Petron Saturday Special encounter with the Aces, who will aim for a 5-1 record in the season-ending conference.
Winless teams NorthPort and Columbian are expected to give everything they could as they look to end their miserable runs in the opener set at 4:30 p.m.
NorthPort lost its first six games while Columbian has yet to win in seven tries this conference.
SMB will look to regain its form while star center June Mar Fajardo continues to recover from an injured right shin after dropping to 2-3 with a heartbreaking 109-108 loss to Magnolia last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Getting a victory seemed imminent for the Beermen when they took a 108-104 lead on Marcio Lassiter’s three with over two minutes remaining, only to allow the Hotshots to orchestrate a late charge and pull off an escape act.
The loss spoiled the debut of new import Kevin Murphy, who fired 37 points after coming in to replace Arizona Reid.
Murphy seems to be a perfect fit for a Beermen side looking for a big scoring punch from its import while Fajardo awaits his expected return later this month.
Another loss may put San Miguel in jeopardy of missing out a twice-to-beat advantage given to the four best quarterfinalists, that is why coach Leo Austria would want more from his boys in order to remain in contention.
Rookie Christian Standhardinger has emerged as San Miguel’s top scorer with an average of 25.0 points per contest.
But SMB will be tested by an Aces team which came off a 106-89 triumph over Rain or Shine last Wednesday at the Big Dome.
Import Mike Harris may give San Miguel plenty of problems after firing 39 points in his best performance this conference.
At 4-1, the Aces are in comfortable position to make the top four, though coach Alex Compton said his team still has a long way to go in order to achieve that feat.
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