San Miguel Beermen facing 'must-win' situation in clash against sister team Purefoods
Purefoods coach Tim Cone expects a better performance from Denzel Bowles. Jerome Ascano

STRUGGLING teams Purefoods Star and San Miguel Beer try to get out of the rut when they face each other in a crucial match that will have strong implications on their playoff hopes in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The Hotshots, the reigning champions, opened the conference with four successive victories - three of them with stand-in import marqus Blakely - but has since lost three in a row with Daniel Orton, who has since been replaced, and balik-import Denzel Bowles.

Entering Sunday’s game, Purefoods Star is in a four-way tie for fourth spot with GlobalPort, Barangay Ginebra and Barako Bull at 4-3 with four games left in the single-round eliminations.

“Everybody havs to start steeping up. We’re one win away from first place and one win away from ninth place, but we’re both desperate for a win,” said Purefoods Star coach Tim Cone ahead of the 5:15 p.m. match against the Beermen.

Cone said a five-day break gave the Hotshots enough time to put Bowles in a situation where he can be comfortable playing the triangle offense again.

The break also gave veterans James Yap and PJ Simon time to recover from injuries, while Allein Maliksi, who had to attend to his ailing father, is also back in harness.

“We got Denzel now where he’s comfortable. James is back in the lineup, PJ is back in the lineup and had some practice time. Allein is back and seemingly focused after what happened to his father,” he added.

The Hotshots face a Beermen side that just over a month ago was on top of the world after winning their first Philippine Cup title since 2001.

But the Beermen have gone 1-5 in their first six games and are suddenly in danger of getting eliminated.

“It’s a virtual must-win for us. Gagawin namin lahat para makuha ito,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria, whose team is coming off a 100-93 loss NLEX after blowing a 22-point lead.

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