Ginebra import Justin Brownlee. –PBA IMAGES
Barangay Ginebra gets a chance to close in on the remaining twice-to-beat advantage with another busy weekend slate featuring three other teams trying to punch their way to the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Ginebra plays struggling NLEX on Friday before taking on streaking NorthPort two days later, both at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City, hoping to move to the doorstep of the all-important quarterfinal incentive.
Coach Tim Cone’s squad carries a 7-2 record, and currently is the hottest team in the league with five consecutive victories. Guest team Bay Area has already locked up the first twice-to-beat bonus after ending the eliminations at 10-2.
“We’re hoping to build momentum in these last three games,” Cone said, also mentioning next week’s Bonifacio Day affair with Converge. “We got a tough road ahead of us, but we still have control of our destiny.”
Magnolia, with an 8-2 card, and Converge, which holds an 8-3 record, are also in pursuit of a top two finish, with the Hotshots meeting Meralco on Sunday.
NorthPort, at 6-5 for fifth place after three straight wins, including a 112-97 decision that ended Converge’s streak of seven consecutive victories, hopes to upset Ginebra and formalize its place in the quarters.
But NorthPort, along with San Miguel Beer (5-5) and Phoenix (5-6), may end the week with the quarterfinals in the bag by coupling wins with a Rain or Shine loss.
The Painters, in ninth position at 4-6, battles fading Blackwater in Friday’s opening game. They will try to pull ahead of the 4-5 Meralco Bolts, who are also on a three-win run.
San Miguel plays a desperate TNT side on Saturday at PhilSports, the latter needing a win to keep its slim quarters bid alive or suffer an unusual early exit.
TNT has dropped its last three outings, the most recent being a 140-108 defeat to Bay Area last Wednesday. At 4-7, coach Chot Reyes and the Tropang Giga no longer own their fate.
The timing seems to be right for the Beermen, who have won back-to-back games and welcomed June Mar Fajardo back after he missed seven games due to a throat procedure.
There’s also a chance that Terrence Romeo may finally play for the first time since last season’s Governors’ Cup after electing to sit out San Miguel’s 131-103 mastery of Terrafirma despite being in uniform for the first time this season.
Phoenix tries to check a three-game slide as ti wraps up the eliminations against Terrafirma, which played minus import Lester Prosper due to health and safety protocols in its recent setback.
Terrafirma (1-10) and Blackwater (3-8) are already out of the running while NLEX (3-7) is desperate to score an upset over Ginebra in the hopes of sneaking into the quarterfinals.
But like Blackwater, NLEX is on a difficult stretch with five straight losses.