SMB seeks to solidify outright PBA Philippine Cup semis berth bid as Beermen take on TNT Tropang Texters
Coach Leo Austria's Beermen are on a six-game win streak but face a tough match against perennial title contender in coach Jong Uichico's Texters. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer focuses on things within its control as it starts a crucial final stretch in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup elimination round against Talk ‘N Text on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen may be enjoying the view from the top with an outright semifinal berth nearly within reach, but the defending champions are not resting on their laurels as they finish the regular season against contenders in the Tropang Texters and the Alaska.

“We’re still not assured and we don’t want to rely on the results of other teams,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said.

The top two teams at the end of the eliminations are assured of semifinal spots, while the next four squads will have to settle for a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals against their lower-seeded foes.

Rain or Shine and Alaska are lurking behind the Beermen, tied at second spot with similar 7-2 win-loss records.

If the Painters and Aces wind up tied at the end, the perennial contenders will figure in a playoff for the No. 2 seed.

SMB is hoping to avoid complications as it seeks a seventh straight victory and ninth overall in 10 games in the marquee 5:15 p.m. matchup against the Texters, who are running fifth with a 5-3 win-loss record and coming off a 108-104 win over Meralco last Wednesday.

The Beermen are fresh from an 88-80 win over NLEX in a match that needed overtime where Yancy de Ocampo fill the void left by foul-plagued superstar June Mar Fajardo.

“I’m happy to see my bench players step up,” Austria said. “That’s the result of what we’re doing in practice: yung first team namin, palaging kalaban ang second team for them to step up.”

The Batang Pier, running fourth at 6-3, face Mahindra (2-7) in the curtain-raiser at 3 o’clock.

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