AFTER being held out last week because of the PBA health and safety protocols, the Meralco Bolts and Alaska Aces return to competition this week. — PBA IMAGES

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

AFTER two consecutive weeks of not having a full complement of 12 teams playing because of the league’s health and safety protocols, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will have all the squads seeing action when proceedings resume on Wednesday.

The Meralco Bolts and Alaska Aces return to competition after being held out last week because of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns in the “semi-bubble” tournament being held in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Prior to that, the Northport Batang Pier had to sit out the opening week of the Philippine Cup when the league resumed on Sept. 1, after a month-long stoppage, also in accordance with protocols.

On tap on Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym are the games between league-leading TnT Tropang Giga (8-1) against the streaking Northport (4-3) at 3 p.m., followed by the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters (4-5) versus defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings (3-5) at 6 p.m.

Meralco (5-2), currently at second place, will play two matches, first against Terrafirma Dyip (3-6) on Thursday at 2 p.m. then on Saturday versus winless Blackwater Bossing (0-9) also at 2 p.m.

The Aces, meanwhile, will have it packed, playing three straight from Friday to Sunday. Alaska takes on Barangay Ginebra (Sept. 17), TnT (Sept. 18) and Terrafirma (Sept. 19).

The San Miguel Beermen (5-3) and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok (6-3) will have two matches, with the NLEX Road Warriors (4-5) and the Rain or Shine Elastopainters (6-4) playing a game each.

The PBA Philippine Cup is now in the final stretch of the elimination round where only the top eight advance to the playoffs.

In the quarterfinals, the top two teams will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage over the number eight and seven teams while teams #3 and #6 and #4 and #5 battling in a pair of best-of-three series.   

Meanwhile, Northport’s Robert Bolick was named PBA player of the week for the period of Sept. 8 to 12.

The do-it-all guard out of San Beda University helped his team go 3-0 in said stretch while averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists.

Northport currently sits at solo sixth place with a record of 4-3 and four games to play in the elimination round.

Mr. Bolick capped his team’s unbeaten run by matching his career-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field in a 96-94 victory over the Road Warriors on Sept. 12.

In winning the award, given by media who covers the PBA, he beat out Northport teammate Jamie Malonzo, TnT rookie Mikey Williams, the Phoenix duo of Jason Perkins and Matthew Wright, San Miguel’s Terrence Romeo and Marcio Lassiter, and Rain or Shine’s Javee Mocon and rookie Leonard Santillan.