SMB looks to bounce back from worst loss of the season against upset-hungry NLEX
June Mar Fajardo and Asi Taulava face off as SMB and NLEX figure in a crucial match for playoff spots. Dante Peralta

SAN Miguel Beer seeks to put its recent nightmare behind and get back on its dream run as it takes on NLEX with a quarterfinal spot at stake on a rare Tuesday playdate of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Reeling from a 110-84 beating – their worst loss in four years – at the hands of Ginebra just last Sunday, the Grand Slam-seeking Beermen aim to immediately return to their winning ways as they face the Road Warriors at 4:15 p.m.

June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos returned, but at the expense of the Beermen’s chemistry. Having a game under their belts, though, gets them closer to game-shape.

“I hope maka-recover sila in time for the playoffs, makuha nila yung timing at rhythm nung game,” SMB coach Leo Austria said of their returning stars.

Fajardo had 14 points and 10 boards in 25 minutes in his return after missing the last two outings, while Santos chipped in only six points on 3-of-10 shooting and three rebounds against four fouls in 22 minutes in his first game back since his mom passed away.

The Beermen, running third with a 5-3 win-loss record, face an upset-conscious Road Warriors side that’s bracing for a tough homestretch that will see them face perennial finalists in SMB and Alaska.

“We got two tough games,” said NLEX star Asi Taulava, whose team is at 5-4. “If we can weather the storm and pull off two great upsets, I think it’ll be great going into the playoffs.”

The Road Warriors are coming off a 110-105 victory over GlobalPort last Friday in a game where their offense did enough for them to prevail.

“In the playoffs, we can't be giving up 105 points,” Taulava said. “Going to our last two games against the top two teams, we want to be able to slow them down, play with our tempo.”

Rain or Shine, part of the three-way tie with NLEX and Tropang TNT, likewise tries to book its postseason ticket as it takes on eliminated GlobalPort (2-7) in the second game at 7 o’clock.

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