HOPING to build momentum heading into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs, defending champion San Mig Coffee tries to end its elimination round campaign on a winning note when it battles Meralco on Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Serving as the main game of a weekend doubleheader, the Mixers-Bolts match is set at 8 p.m.
The Mixers (7-6) have won their last two outings against Talk `N Text and Globalport for the team’s first back-to-back victories since winning three straight in a 10-day span early in the conference.
But getting past the Bolts (6-6) will be quite a challenge as big man Marc Pingris could be a game-time decision due to a swollen right ankle.
It doesn’t help, too, that two-time league MVP James Yap had been struggling the past few games owing to a bout with the flu for more than a week now.
“Kami ang defending champion at alam naman natin lahat ng teams pinagha-handaan kami. Walang team diyan na papayag mag-back to back (champion) kami so kailangan go hard lagi,” said the 6-foot-2 Yap, who’s coming off a scoreless stint in San Mig’s 80-66 win over Air21 on Wednesday.
The victory over the Express formalized the Mixers’ entry in the quarterfinals.
Meantime, Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio acknowledged that Yap may not be playing his best basketball in the team’s last four outings, but the Bolts have their eyes set on the Mixers’ other scorers such as import Denzel Bowles, Peter June Simon, Joe Devance and even sophomore guard Mark Barroca.
“James maybe struggling right now but we are preparing for other guys in San Mig to step up. They still have PJ, Denzel, Joe, and even Mark Barroca. So it’s a huge challenge for our guys to step up on defense,” explained Gregorio, whose team hopes to sweep its last two outings to get a better seeding going to the quarterfinals.
Meralco is coming off a tough 90-91 loss to Barangay Ginebra on Sunday following the game-clinching basket by Kings import Vernon Macklin.
“The big difference for us coming into our game is we’re well-rested. It gave some of our players the time to rest. So we’ll definitely go all out for the win because we don’t want to drop to No. 7 or No. 8,” added the Meralco mentor.