By JONAS TERRADO
Meralco, Alaska and the NorthPort coaching staff are hoping to get back into the action after missing the previous week of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations due to health and safety protocols.
The PBA is set to release the schedule of games for the duration of Sept. 15 to 19 Tuesday, but not before all teams undergo a weekly swab test procedure slated Monday as part of league guidelines against COVID-19.
Eagerly awaiting the results are the three mentioned groups that failed to appear at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga to undergo quarantine at their respective bases in Pampanga.
The Bolts and Aces reportedly had some infections while Batang Pier bared that coach Pido Jarencio and the rest of his staff spent the week recovering from the coronavirus.
Meralco’s absence hardly affected its place in the team standings as it stayed in second place with a 5-2 record, trailing only TNT’s league-best 8-1 mark and barely ahead of Magnolia Pambansang Manok (6-3), San Miguel Beer (5-3) and streaking Rain or Shine (6-4).
NorthPort overcame the absence of Jarencio and company on the sidelines as it won all three games last week with team manager Bonnie Tan getting some help from players like Sean Anthony in calling the shots and Robert Bolick putting up a series of great performances.
The Batang Pier now sit in sixth place at 4-3.
Alaska’s place was severely affected as it fell 11th out of 12 teams at 2-4, a record that came after playing its only game in Bacolor to date — a 94-84 defeat to NLEX last Sept. 2.
Last week saw Terrafirma crashing back to earth and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in dire straits following a pair of losses against fellow title favorites.
Terrafirma dropped to 10th at 3-6 when its three-game winning streak was snapped by Phoenix Super LPG (96-84) before being clobbered by NorthPort (104-84).
Ginebra is now outside the top eight in ninth spot at 3-5 after succumbing to San Miguel (111-102) and TNT (88-67).
NLEX fell out of the top four by losing all three matches, and is now in a share of seventh place at 4-5 with resurgent Phoenix, which also took down Blackwater in its other game the previous week.
Continuing to languish at the bottom is Blackwater at 0-9, in danger of tying the league’s all-time mark after tying Ginebra’s 17-game skid back in 1995.
Another one will put Blackwater on level terms with Great Taste, which lost 18 in a row back in 1980.