by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – NLEX vs Rain or Shine
6:45 p.m. – San Miguel vs Meralco
Meralco will have a tough mountain to climb in its bid to keep its quarterfinal hopes alive when it takes on streaking San Miguel Beer today in the resumption of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts need to beat the Beermen in the 6:45 p.m. match of the Petron Saturday Special doubleheader to clinch at least a playoff for the eighth and final quarterfinals berth.
NLEX tries to lock the No. 7 seed against Rain or Shine at 4:30 p.m. The Road Warriors are already assured of a quarters slot even if they end up in a three-way tie with the Bolts and TNT KaTropa due to a superior quotient.
NLEX is in seventh place at 5-5 while Meralco and TNT share eighth and ninth at 4-6.
Meralco won its last three games to avoid elimination but will have its hands full against a San Miguel squad that has shown signs of life after a jittery start in the tournament.
The Beermen, carrying a four-game winning streak, are no longer in contention for a twice-to-beat advantage but the team’s confidence is on high, especially with June Mar Fajardo back from a shin injury.
Fajardo played just 10 minutes in last week’s victory over Rain or Shine but San Miguel believes the four-time reigning MVP will get his form back in time for the quarters.
Coach Norman Black is hopeful the Bolts will keep their hot streak going despite a nearly two-week break with import Allen Durham leading the charge.
Meralco is expected to get some needed support as veterans Ranidel de Ocampo and KG Canaleta return from their injuries.
Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, Anjo Caram, Cliff Hodge and Mike Tolomia lead the Bolts in their attempt to stay alive.
A loss, however, will mean the end of the world for the Bolts as they need TNT to lose tomorrow’s meeting with defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to force a playoff for the No. 8 spot.
The playoff, if necessary, will be held on Tuesday at the Big Dome.