By JONAS TERRADO
(DHVSU Gym, Bacolor)
2 p.m. — Meralco vs NLEX
4:35 p.m. — Alaska vs San Miguel
Meralco looks to secure a twice-to-beat advantage while Alaska tries to stay in the hunt for a quarterfinals berth when they face separate opponents in the penultimate day of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Bolts will have Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge back in action in the 2 p.m. opener against the NLEX Road Warriors while the Aces eye a crucial win against the San Miguel Beermen in the other match at 4:35 p.m.
Both teams play the first of back-to-back games to wrap the eliminations that encountered delays last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also slated for Meralco is a game against defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel while Alaska plays NorthPort in tomorrow’s twinbill.
Newsome, Hodge and third-stringer Raymar Jose will suit up for the Bolts after spending the past two weeks under the league’s health and safety guidelines.
Even without the three players, Meralco was able to win back-to-back games last week at the expense of Terrafirma (95-83) and Blackwater (104-97) to stay in second place at 7-2.
Coach Norman Black’s team needs just one win to gain the twice-to-beat in the quarters, even if it ends up tied with Magnolia for second at 8-3 due to a tiebreaker.
Holding a 5-5 record, NLEX hopes to end the elims with a win and secure its place in the quarterfinals, there’s a high chance that the Road Warriors will able to make the last eight despite a loss.
In the other game, Alaska aims to win its final two games to gain a strong chance of reaching the quarters.
But Alaska dropped the last two games of a grueling schedule of three straight days to fall at 3-6, trailing eighth place Ginebra (4-6), Phoenix Super LPG (4-7) and Terrafirma (4-7).
One loss in their final two matches may put the Aces in a difficult position to secure a playoff for the eighth and last quarterfinals slot.
San Miguel, carrying a 6-4 mark, has nothing at stake except for seeding purposes against Alaska after its loss to Magnolia last Sept. 18 relegated them to a best-of-three series allotted for teams that finished third to sixth.