• SMB, Alaska collide in crucial Batangas game


    Reigning champion San Miguel Beer and Alaska will be both eyeing the top two twice-to-beat bonuses in the quarterfinals, when they clash at 5 p.m. today in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Batangas Coliseum in Batangas City.

    The Beermen hope to regain their rhythm after losing 96-106 to Blackwater last week.

    With a 6-2 win-loss record, the leading team SMB still has three games remaining in the elimination round.

    June Mar Fajardo PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

    “For us, this is the most crucial game in the elimination. If we can beat Alaska, we are one full game ahead of them. And the chance of getting into the top two spots is really bright,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria, referring to the other top two contenders No. 2 Magnolia, No. 3 Alaska and No. 4 Rain or Shine.

    Four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, who is averaging 24 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 blocks in eight games, will be the axis of the team’s offense and defense supported by Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross.

    Alex Cabagnot who is still nursing a foot injury will miss the game.

    “Hopefully, Alex will be fully recovered comes playoff time. He is doubtful to play in our last three games in the elimination.”

    Alaska, too, is keen to regain composure after losing 89-96 to Northern Luzon Expressway last Sunday. Though the defeat halted the Aces’ six-game winning streak, Alaska, with 6-3 win-loss record, remained within the top three squads.

    Calvin Abueva who is averaging 14.6 points and 10.3 rebounds in eight games is expected to give the defending champion a tough game as he leads Alaska with support from Vic Manuel, Jayvee Casio, Chris Banchero, Kevin Racal and Sonny Thoss.


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