by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs San Miguel
7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Alaska
San Miguel Beer and Alaska try to complete the upset of their higher-ranked opponents in a pair of knockout quarterfinal matches in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen look to end the dream run of the No. 2-ranked NorthPort Batang Pier in the 4:30 p.m. showdown while the Aces look to defy the odds anew against the top seeded TNT KaTropa at 7 p.m.
Both teams pulled off contrasting victories last Sunday at the Big Dome to push their twice-to-beat foes to a do-or-die encounter.
Displaying its familiarity in pressure situations, the Beermen broke loose in the fourth quarter to produce a 98-84 win while the KaTropa stunned everyone with a 108-72 romp of the KaTropa.
Experience will be one of the advantages of SMB, which has an 11-5 record in elimination games since coach Leo Austria took charge in the 2014-15 season.
Import Chris McCullough, June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross hope to bring the Beermen to the semis while Terrence Romeo will attempt to be more calmer after flashing a dirty finger in the previous meeting.
The gesture is expected to result in a fine from the PBA Commissioner’s Office.
Rookie Robert Bolick, meanwhile, is determined to deliver another impressive game after scoring 20 in a losing effort to bring NorthPort to the semis for the first time since the 2016 Philippine cup.
Alaska seeks to become the fourth No. 8 team in PBA history to beat the top-seeded squad in the quarters.
But coach Alex Compton expects TNT to come back with a vengeance after being handed its worst defeat of the conference.
Import Terrence Jones is eager to regain his dominant form after being held to 19 points behind Alaska’s pesky defense.