4:15 p.m. – Phoenix Fuel vs GlobalPort
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs TNT Katropa
Two teams will miss key players as unbeaten San Miguel Beer collides against archrival TNT Katropa in a crucial match in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the league’s commitment to Gilas Pilipinas, 11 PBA players were pulled out from their respective teams. As a result, SMB will be without reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo while TNT will play sans starters Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario.
The four players are part of the national team that will see action in next week’s Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship set May 12 to 14 at the Big Dome.
Still, expect a close encounter between SMB and TNT as they collide at 7 p.m. with the Beermen out to extend their unbeaten win streak to six games and the KaTropa trying to improve their 5-2 card.
Clashing in the first game at 4:15 p.m. are Phoenix Fuel and GlobalPort, with the Batang Pier (2-5) and the Fuel Masters (3-5) aiming to fan their quarterfinal playoff bid this conference.
Focus, though, is on the SMB-TNT game, which will be the first time the two squads will face off since they agreed on a one-on-one trade recently and forward Matt Ganuelas-Rosser was dealt to the Beermen while guard RR Garcia was shipped to the KaTropa.
In its last game, SMB defeated Rain or Shine, 111-98, as import Charles Rhodes collected 26 points in a balanced attack.
That game also saw Alex Cabagnot finish with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Fajardo added 14 points, while Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria said that the absence of the 6-foot-10 Fajardo is crucial for them even as TNT will be without its three starters.
“Sa position kasi na yun meron silang malalaki e, anjan si Mo (Moala Tautua) and Kelly Williams, plus yung import nila. So sa tingin ko dun kami dapat mag-tulungan,” said Austria, who will be relying on backup centers Yancy de Ocampo, Jayr Reyes and rookie Arnold Van Opstal.
As for TNT, coach Nash Racela said that they will have to find ways to maximize what they have as they try to rebound from a recent 107-89 blowout loss to crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
“Malaking bagay syempre na three players ang wala sa amin, but it’s our commitment to the national team. That’s the sacrifice we have to make, so we have to adjust,” said Racela.
“We’re just hoping that other players would step up. Three games din kasi sila mawawala, yung mga players sa Gilas Pilipinas.
So hopefully maka-adjust nga kami while wala sila,” added Racela.