By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

PBA: League leaders clash today at Arena

Posted on January 13, 2017

PACESETTING teams in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup battle as the San Miguel Beermen and Rain or Shine Elastopainters see action today in the main game scheduled at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The league-leading San Miguel Beermen shoot for their seventh straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup as they take on the second-running Rain or Shine Elastopainters today at the Mall of Asia Arena. -- Alvin S. Go
Set for 7 p.m., league leader San Miguel (7-1) tries to add to its six-game winning streak while also creating some distance between it and second-running Rain or Shine (5-2), winner of its last two games.

The latest of the Beermen’s tournament-high six straight victories came at the expense of sister ball club Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, 72-70, last Sunday.

San Miguel saw a tough fight against Barangay Ginebra but managed to do just enough in the homestretch to preserve its streak.

Veteran guard Ronald Tubid came off the bench to spark the team and help the Beermen survive the Kings. He finished with 12 points and three rebounds to compensate for the offensive struggles of league most valuable player June Mar Fajardo, who was limited to just nine points on two-of-six shooting.

Alex Cabagnot paced San Miguel against Barangay Ginebra with 16 points to clinch for him player of the week honors while Arwind Santos had a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“The team really fought hard tonight and I’m happy we were rewarded with a win. This type of game where we were challenged should help us as we move forward in the tournament,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after their victory which fortified their push for the top two that would merit a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

Also looking to propel their cause in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association is Rain or Shine, who has gotten back to the groove after sputtering for a while midway into the Philippine Cup.

The Elastopainters have won back-to-back against the NLEX Road Warriors and Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters in that order after going 1-2 in their previous three matches to make their way to the top.

Despite the good form they have been showing of late, Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia said they should continue working on their game, including maintaining their focus for the whole duration of matches.

“We still have to fix some of our problems like maintaining our focus as we have a tendency to relax when we get big leads. We seem to stop attacking. Hopefully in our next game against San Miguel we can come out stronger and better and be consistent in every quarter,” he said.

Guard Jericho Cruz leads the Elastopainters with 13.3 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Raymond Almazan has been good for 13 points and 11.6 rebounds although he has missed the team’s last two games because of a problem with his calf. James Yap is the other player for the team averaging in double-digit scoring with 11.2 markers.

Meanwhile, in the opening game at 4:15 p.m. the GlobalPort Batang Pier (4-3) face off with the NLEX Road Warriors (2-5).

Both teams won in their previous games and are looking to continue their roll.