Defending champion San Miguel Beer will be gunning for an outright semifinals berth when it faces Alaska today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Beermen head coach Leo Austria believes that they should match Alaska’s intensity when they collide at 7 p.m. after the tussle between Rain or Shine and Meralco at 4:15 p.m.
“Going to the Alaska game, we need to match Alaska’s superb intensity. They really need to win against us. If we beat them, they’ll be eliminated for the top two spots,” Austria said. “We have to be ready. It is going to be tough.”
The Beermen are holding the solo top spot with a 9-1 card.
Reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and reenergized Arwind Santos are expected to go all-out to extend the Beermen’s win streak to eight and more importantly get one of the two outright semis slot.
Fajardo posted 22 points plus 15 rebounds and five blocks while Santos notched 30 points and 12 rebounds in their recent 97-84 win over Talk ‘N Text.
Besides the two, Alex Cabagnot, Gabby Espinas and Chris Ross will be providing the needed support for the Beermen.
Alaska, on the other hand, vowed to give them a tough night.
The Aces are coming off a 105-111 loss to Rain or Shine last week and they are aiming to bounce back to strengthen their chance of finishing in the Top 2 after the elimination round.
Alaska and Rain or Shine are currently sharing the No. 2 spot with identical 7-2.
Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, Nonoy Baclao, Tony Dela Cruz, Chris Banchero, Jayvee Casio, RJ Jazul, Sonny Thoss and Dondon Hontiveros will be spearheading Alaska’s campaign.
For its part, Rain or Shine also aims to keep its Top 2 bid alive when it meets the already-eliminated Meralco squad with Jericho Cruz, Raymund Almazan, Beau Belga, Jay-R Quinahan, Gabe Norwood and Chris Tiu hoping to deliver the goods for the Elasto Painters.
The Bolts, who are occupying the bottom of the team standings with 1-9 record, are just aiming for a graceful exit, as they are no longer capable of reaching the playoff round.