by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — Meralco vs Columbian
7 p.m. — Phoenix vs NorthPort
Phoenix Pulse tries to get back on winning track against NorthPort as the PBA Philippine Cup returns following a two-week break at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters will also aim at virtually securing a quarterfinals berth in the 7 p.m. match while aching to recover from 98-94 overtime loss to the league-leading Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Feb. 10.
Coach Louie Alas took advantage of the break by letting Phoenix play several tune-up games while trying to map out ways to secure its sixth win in seven games.
Defense will again be Alas’ main focus as the Fuel Masters begin a stretch of back-to-back games.
Phoenix is also slated to play Alaska on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins and Justin Chua are expected to play big roles against NorthPort which will be led by the duo of Stanley Pringle and Sean Anthony.
Pringle leads the league in scoring at 22.5 points with Anthony in second at 20.5 points alongside 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.8 steals.
Colliding at 4:30 p.m. are Meralco and skidding Columbian, teams seeking to climb up into the standings.
The Bolts are in eighth place at 2-3 following a loss to the NLEX Road Warriors last Feb. 2 while the Dyip have dropped their last three outings after a 2-1 start.
Chris Newsome, Baser Amer, Nico Salva and Ranidel de Ocampo will try to put Meralco in a comfortable position against the Dyip.
Expected to once again carry a big weight on his shoulders is Columbian’s top overall pick CJ Perez, who has produced 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals this conference.