• 4 teams seek crucial wins before Lenten break

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    Four struggling teams will try to post a win before the Lenten break in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    NLEX and GlobalPort clash in the opener at 4:15 p.m. to be followed by the tussle between Rain or Shine and Phoenix at 7 p.m.

    The Road Warriors (0-5) and Batang Pier (0-4) are the remaining winless teams in the mid-season conference while the Elasto Painters (3-2) will try to snap a two-game slide against the Fuel Masters (2-3), who are also coming off a loss.

    “Both teams are struggling to be consistent. We have to play with more fire and know the importance of this game,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia.

    After starting the conference with three straight wins, the Elasto Painters lost their next two games against Meralco (86-89) and Alaska (102-105).

    Import Shawn Taggart, who is averaging 29 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, will again lead the attack of Rain or Shine together with Jericho Cruz, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga, Jeff Chan and James Yap.

    The Fuel Masters are coming off an ugly 88-110 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last week.

    “It is a must win for us to stay capable of reaching the playoff round,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia, stressing their need to improve their rebounding efforts to boost their chance of winning.

    Import Jameel McKay, who is averaging 22.3 points, 18.3 rebounds and two blocks in Phoenix’s last three games, remains the team’s main weapon but Vanguardia hopes the locals will also step up.

    “It takes a team to win. I’m not satisfied how we are playing as a team,” he added.

    The Road Warriors, meanwhile, will try to rebound from a pair of heartbreaking losses. They dropped a 103-105 decision to Star on Jio Jalalon’s buzzer-beater and blew a 29-point lead in their 121-126 overtime loss to TNT KaTropa.

    The Batang Pier are also winless after four starts even with new import Malcolm White last Saturday against Blackwater.

    White, who replaced Sean Williams, had 33 points and 17 rebounds in their 113-118 loss to the Elite.

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