by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs Magnolia
7 p.m. – Blackwater vs Rain or Shine
Defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Rain or Shine go for the sweep of their respective best-of-three series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings hope to get the job done this time against the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in the 4:30 p.m. opener while the Elasto Painters look to capitalize on their escape act over the weekend against the Blackwater Elite at 7 p.m.
Ginebra is determined to avoid a similar fate suffered in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals when Magnolia came back from a Game 1 loss to win the next two by an average margin of 21 points.
The Kings eked out an 85-79 win last Saturday but not after enduring a grindout showing by the Hotshots, who held import Justin Brownlee to 20 points after averaging 49.5 in the last two games of the eliminations.
Stanley Pringle could play another pivotal role for the Kings as they eye a spot in the semis against the winner of the TNT KaTropa-Alaska quarters duel.
Rain or Shine, on the other hand, knows it cannot rely on luck this time after winning Game 1, 83-80, despite trailing by eight in the final 92 seconds.
Game 1 hero Rey Nambatac, whose long three with 2.3 remaining sealed the comeback, Beau Belga, import Carl Montgomery and Gabe Norwood are poised to drop the hammer on the inexperienced Elite.
On Sunday, Alaska did the unexpected by beating No. 1 TNT KaTropa, 108-72, while San Miguel Beer outlasted No. 2 NorthPort, 98-84, to force their respective quarterfinal matches to rubber matches.