Rejuvenated SMB eyes 3rd win

By Jonas Terrado

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Magnolia vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs Columbian

Defending champion San Miguel hopes to take advantage of the struggles of the Columbian Dyip tonight when they shoot for a third straight win after a 0-3 start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen try to make it three in a row in the 7 p.m. contest and move in the middle of the pack after starting the midseason conference with losses to top four teams Meralco Bolts, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Alaska Aces.

“We realized na we’re not playing to the level that we had before,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria. “But slowly, they understand each other, and they know importance of chemistry. At the same time, those new players are starting to adapt to the system.”

San Miguel is expected to ride on the momentum gained from Sunday’s 104-97 overtime win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel that saw June Mar Fajardo rescue the team from the jaws of defeat with a game-tying jumper late in regulation.

Fajardo, named Player of the Week by the PBA Press Corps, dominated Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar in the paint despite five personal fouls and finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds.

Import Renaldo Balkman, Chris Ross, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot will be tasked to step up anew, though rookie Christian Standhardinger is doubtful after injuring his knee during practice for the FIBA 3×3 tourney.

Missing the game will deny Standhardinger a chance to face the same team that threw away the chance of selecting him first in last year’s PBA draft. It would be recalled that Columbian dealt the pick to San Miguel in exchange for Ronald Tubid, Rashawn McCarthy and Jay-R Reyes.

Columbian is looking to pick up the pieces after dropping to 3-4 with two consecutive losses by an average margin of 26.5 points.

The Dyip were clobbered 123-95 by TNT KaTropa last Friday, prompting coach Ricky Dandan to walk out of his team shortly after the final buzzer.

Columbian’s performance has been disappointing, considering it has one of the best imports of the conference in John Fields, who leads all reinforcements in scoring at 32.3 points per game.

In the first game, Magnolia seeks to bounce back from a weekend defeat as it plays winless Blackwater at 4:30 p.m.

The Hotshots fell to 3-2 after a 99-96 overtime defeat to the Elasto Painters last Saturday in a game that saw new import Curtis Kelly score 19 points but made just 3-of-12 free throws.