by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Meralco
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs NLEX
San Miguel Beer resumes its title-retention drive after a 26-day layoff when it battles NLEX tonight in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen are looking to shake off the rust caused by the lengthy respite and gain a share of fourth place with TNT KaTropa in the match set at 7 p.m.
Coach Leo Austria’s wards have been groping for form since the start of the season, resulting in a split of SMB’s first six games.
June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter look to stay in good form after helping Gilas Pilipinas advance to the FIBA World Cup with help from Terrence Romeo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross.
Christian Standhardinger could make his return after missing the last two games due to an injured knee.
Out to spoil San Miguel’s quest is NLEX, which hopes to resolve the inconsistencies that has left coach Yeng Guiao to ponder on making some changes.
The Road Warriors, toting a 2-4 card, have been getting big plays from center Poy Erram but has been lacking the production needed from its backcourt.
With Kiefer Ravena still serving a FIBA ban and Kevin Alas suffering a second ACL injury, NLEX has been forced to go with Bong Galanza and Kenneth Ighalo, among others.
NorthPort and Meralco hopes to end their skids when they met in the 4:30 p.m. curtainraiser.
The Batang Pier will have Stanley Pringle back from a one-game suspension as they aim to snap a three-game slide.
NorthPort is also motivated to get back on winning track after an 89-87 loss to Phoenix Pulse which was also contributed by a questionable offensive foul on Sean Anthony in the final minute.
Meralco, meanwhile, is also out to snap a three-game skid and improve its 2-5 record.
The Bolts’ recent loss came last Saturday, bowing to the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 92-86, in Cagayan de Oro City.