Games Friday
(PhilSports Arena)
4:30 p.m. — Converge vs San Miguel Beer
7:30 p.m. — Ginebra vs TNT

SAN Miguel Beer (SMB) attempts to get on the next rung of what coach Jorge Gallent dubbed as their step-by-step mission in the PBA Philippine Cup.

With a spotless 5-0 mark, the league-leading Beermen are well in position to notch win No. 6 and get into the quarterfinals ahead of everyone in this tight race.

And Mr. Gallent’s rampaging squad can achieve this by taking care of business Friday at 4:30 p.m. against freefalling Converge (0-7) in a top-versus-bottom tiff at the PhilSports Arena.

“We’re taking it one game at a time. Right now, we think of Converge. That’s the ladder,” said Mr. Gallent after claiming their latest prey, Terrafirma, 113-110, last Wednesday and closing in on an early Last-8 qualification.

“So we have 11 steps (in the elimination round). We’re going to our sixth step. That’s the only thing we’re thinking of.”

Though practically out of it all, the FiberXers can use a morale-boosting upset now. Aldin Ayo’s youth-laden charges played their best game of the All-Filipino a week ago in a close 107-113 loss to Phoenix.

Like defending champion SMB, Ginebra (5-3) seeks a quarters-clinching sixth victory in the 7:30 p.m. showdown with TNT (4-3).

The Gin Kings, however, will have a big void to fill in the wing position following the calf injury that forced Jamie Malonzo out of action for some four weeks.

“We’re going to miss Jamie, no doubt. He does a lot for us on both sides. That position, with Miah (Gray) and Aljon (Mariano), along with Jamie, used to be our position of strength and depth. But with all of them injured, we’ll have to be creative and force some guys to play up in size or perhaps for Japeth (Aguilar), to play down in size,” coach Tim Cone told The STAR.

“Collectively, we’ve just got to move on and figure out ways to win games and get ourselves to the playoffs.”

The Gin Kings and the Tropang Giga are similarly on a two-game streak that neither would like to end as the quarters chase heats up. — Olmin Leyba