by Jonas Terrado
Defending champion San Miguel Beer looks to put Phoenix Pulse in a precarious situation when it goes for a commanding 3-0 lead in the resumption of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen try to put a stranglehold in their best-of-seven series at 6:30 p.m. and further crush the morale of the top seed Fuel Masters after taking the first two games before the Lenten break.
San Miguel took Game 1, 100-88, last April 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena before rallying from a 12-point deficit to prevail, 92-82, two days later.
Giving Phoenix a lifeline is a big no for the Beermen.
June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Terrence Romeo and Christian Standhardinger will try to put San Miguel in a good position to secure their eighth finals appearance in the last 13 conferences.
But San Miguel is bracing for another physical encounter with Phoenix, which is determined to change the complexion of the series.
Calvin Abueva and Matthew Wright have kept their presence felt in the series though much has been asked from the rest of the team after two frustrating setbacks.
Defending Fajardo will again be another tough task for the Fuel Masters with coach Louie Alas expected to go anew with Justin Chua, Jason Perkins and Doug Kramer.
Standhardinger will suit up for SMB after escaping suspension for his kick on Abueva in Game 2. He was later fined P20,000 by the league for a Flagrant Foul 2.
Abueva was also fined P15,000 for flashing a dirty finger several times, a testament to the intense nature of the series.