Games Friday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — Phoenix vs Meralco
7:30 p.m. — Magnolia vs San Miguel Beer

Seventy-TWO days after their title dispute in the previous conference, San Miguel Beer (SMB) and Magnolia face off again Friday in a gigantic PBA Philippine Cup duel of rampaging squads at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The unbeaten Beermen shoot for their eighth consecutive victory against a Hotshots rival bent not only on making it five straight and 6-2 overall in the All-Filipino but also getting back at their 2-4 conquerors in the Com-missioner’s Cup finale.

“We’re treating Magnolia as a team that’s a threat to us,” SMB coach Jorge Gallent said ahead of the 7:30 p.m. entanglement between the league leaders and their closest pursuers.

Both the defending champion Beermen and the Hotshots are hunting for Top 2 seeding and win-once bonuses in the quarterfinals.

“They’re also trying to get that twice-to-beat advantage, like us, so we have to play well and do the things we have to do to beat a team like Magnolia,” said Mr. Gallent.

Equally with high stakes is the 4:30 p.m. clash between 10th-running Meralco (3-5) and 11th-running Phoenix (3-6), which are hoping to get into the Magic 8.

The Bolts and Fuel Masters look to match the number of wins of No. 8 NorthPort (4-6) as the jockeying for position heats up. After 1-2 SMB and Magnolia, Ginebra (6-3), NLEX (5-3), TNT (5-4), Rain or Shine (5-5) and Terrafirma (5-5) carry at least five victories. — Olmin Leyba