by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Phoenix Pulse vs NorthPort
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs San Miguel
San Miguel Beer and Magnolia meet for the first time since their thrilling finals showdown last conference, seeking an important win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen and Hotshots square off at 7 p.m. as they hope to climb up in the standings after a sluggish start caused by a short rest from their seven-game Philippine Cup Finals duel.
SMB emerged victorious in that showdown last month when it topped Magnolia, 72-71, in the deciding seventh game behind Alex Cabagnot’s go-ahead jumper and June Mar Fajardo’s record-setting 31-rebound output.
Cabagnot and Fajardo hope to play key roles as San Miguel tries to improve its 2-3 record while Magnolia shoots for a fourth consecutive win after a 0-2 start.
Import Charles Rhodes, Arwind Santos, Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter are also expected to step up for the Beermen of coach Leo Austria while the Hotshots will lean on import James Farr, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang.
Both teams are coming off wins with SMB defeating Alaska, 119-107, last Friday and Magnolia edging Phoenix Pulse, 99-96, the following day.
Meanwhile, virtual quarterfinalist NorthPort tries to gain the solo lead in the 4:30 p.m. opener against Phoenix.
The Batang Pier enter the contest riding high on Saturday’s 127-99 rout of the Blackwater Elite with newcomers Sol Mercado, Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz making an impact.