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    Struggling champs Purefoods, San Miguel clash in crucial, must-win game

    Mar 1, 2015

    THE two reigning PBA champions clash Sunday as both teams try to get out of the funk in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Reigning title holder Purefoods take on All-Filipino titlist San Miguel at 5:15 p.m. whose outcome could have strong implications in their respective playoff bids.

    The Hotshots have been in a complete tailspin of late as they lost their last three games after starting the conference with four straight victories.

    The turnaround suddenly relegated them in a four-way tie for fourth spot with Globalport, Barangay Ginebra, and Barako Bull at 4-3, with just four games left in the single-round eliminations.

    “Everybody have 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 coach Tim Cone, whose team is coming off a five-day break.

    Cone said the long break gave the Hotshots enough time to put comebacking import Denzel Bowles in a situation where he can be comfortable playing the triangle offense.

    The rest also gave veterans James Yap and PJ Simon time to heal from their respective injuries, while Allein Maliksi, who had to attend to his ailing father the past few days, is now back in harness for the Hotshots.

    “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,” Cone added.

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    The Hotshots face a Beermen side that just over a month ago, was at the top of the league after winning their first Philippine Cup title in the last 14 years.

    But San Miguel seemed out of focus since then, opening the mid-season tournament with a 1-5 record as the Beermen suddenly found themselves 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 to NLEX after blowing a huge 22-point lead.

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