4 p.m. — NLEX vs Rain or Shine
8 p.m. — San Miguel vs NorthPort
WHILE June Mar Fajardo is out with a left hand injury, the task of holding down the fort for San Miguel Beer (SMB) falls squarely on the relatively healthier bunch.
The Beermen have big shoes to fill — 19.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists — for the next four to six weeks as they wait for Mr. Fajardo’s metacarpal fracture of the fourth digit to heal.
And for Ivan Aska, CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Mo Tautuaa and the rest of SMB (3-1), the extra work minus the seven-time Most Valuable Player starts in tonight’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup duel with tough NorthPort (4-2).
On the line in the 8 p.m. tussle at the PhilSports Arena are the Beermen’s three-game streak and the Batang Pier’s back-to-back.
Without “The Kraken” on the other side, NorthPort import Venky Jois is expected to go beast mode like he did in his 39-21 game sparking the Batang Pier’s 111-95 win over Converge last Wednesday.
Mr. Jois, Arvin Tolentino and fast-maturing rookies Fran Yu, Cade Flores and Brent Paraiso have given NorthPort a good start in the race for the playoffs.
“At the start of the conference, my request is to reach the playoffs, at least. We’re targeting five wins. Beat the beatable teams and upset the big teams,” said coach Bonnie Tan.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine or ROS (1-5) hope to get something out of its breakthrough 115-110 victory over Blackwater last weekend it battles skidding NLEX (2-4) at 4 p.m.
“We look at it as a good start, a spark na kailangan namin (to chase a playoffs berth),” said ROS mentor Yeng Guiao.
The Road Warriors, themselves, are out to revive their quarters hopes as well and arrest their two-game skid.
Notes: With Su Braimoh sidelined by a torn Achilles, the Meralco Bolts designated Zach Lofton as their replacement import for the Commissioner’s Cup. Initially on board for the East Asia Super League campaign, explosive guard Lofton was officially measured 6-foot-3 and 7/16 by the PBA yesterday. — Olmin Leyba