Back-to-back champion San Miguel Beer will aim to extend its six-game winning streak when it takes on Rain or Shine today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Beermen, coming off a 72-70 win over the Ginebra Gin Kings last Sunday will face the Elasto Painters in the 7 p.m. game after the 4:15 p.m. match between the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Road Warriors and the GlobalPort Batang Pier.
Despite a 7-1 win-loss record, San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria reminds his players not to be over confident.
“That game against Rain or Shine is very important for us,” Austria told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “It could give us a chance to get into the top two and secure a twice-to-beat bonus. We cannot take the Painters for granted even though we’re holding a sixth game win streak.”
A victory of San Miguel Beer will strengthen its chances of getting the No. 1 spot at the end of the elimination round.
A better performance is expected of three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo tonight.
“It’s not just a one-man show. June Mar was defended well by Ginebra but his teammates were able to deliver in that game,” said Austria. “Remember, June Mar’s teammates are the main reason also why he is performing well.”
Besides Fajardo, playmaker Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, Ronald Tubid, Marcio Lassiter, rookie Arnold Van Opstal, Keith Agovida and Ryan Roose Garcia are also expected to step up for SMB.
“We are playing against the hottest team in the league right now,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia via text message. “It’s going to be a big test on our part on how to be consistent on both offense and defense.”
The Elasto Painters are currently No.2 with 5-2 win-loss record.
Jewel Ponferada, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga, Don Trollano, Chris Tiu, Jericho Cruz, Maverick Ahamisi, James Yap, and Mike Tolomia are ready to take on the Beermen.
Meanwhile, NLEX is hoping to initiate a winning run when it meets GlobalPort. The Road Warriors snapped a five-game losing skid last Saturday by beating the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters 110-98 in Angeles, Pampanga to improve their win-loss record to 2-5.
“We are hoping to build momentum from our big win against Talk ‘N Text,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “GlobalPort is more balanced this season than in the past. Its not just about Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle anymore.”
“They have other weapons now in their arsenal. KG (Canaleta) and JR (Quinahan) have blended well with their star guards. We have to stop them as a team and shoot as good as we did in our last game. We just want to keep our chances alive for as long as we can.”
NLEX will be leaning on Carlo Lastimosa, Jonas Villanueva, Kevin Alas, Bradwyn Guinto, Paul Asi Taulava and Sean Anthony.
The Batang Pier with a 4-3 win-loss record are coming off a 97-89 win over the Meralco Bolts last week.