TNT battles Alaska

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Friday, January 3, 2014


MANILA -- The race for the two twice-to-beat bonus heats up in the first game of the year as defending champion Talk ‘N Text battles Alaska Aces, while Meralco tries to keep its hope for a quarterfinal slot alive when it faces cellar dweller Air 21 Express in the resumption of the 39th PBA Philippine Cup elimination round today.

As the all-Filipino cup is approaching the final stages of the elimination round, Ginebra leads with a 9-1 win-loss slate followed by erstwhile solo leader Petron with an 8-2 card. Rain or Shine is at third with a 7-3 record, while Talk ‘N Text is at fourth with a 6-3 card.

The Tropang Texters, who lost their last game in 2013 to Petron, 105-91, despite the absence of June Mar Fajardo last Dec. 28, need to bounce back quickly to remain in the hunt for the twice-to-beat incentive.

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Coach Norman Black’s team faces Alaska at 3:30 p.m. to be followed by the game between Meralco and Air 21 at 5:45 p.m.

Alaska, on the other hand, is currently locked with Globalport at fifth with a 4-6 card. The Aces will suit up in the game against Talk ‘N Text coming from an 88-75 win over San Mig Coffee last Dec. 27.

Meanwhile, Meralco signed-up veteran and former two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso for at least one conference. The unrestricted free agent Ildefonso, who played for many years with San Miguel Beer, now Petron, is expected to add more muscles with the Bolts.

“We signed Danny Ildefonso for at least one conference. His experiences and maturity will give us more ceiling,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

Meralco’s quest of making it to the quarterfinal round is in jeopardy following a four-game losing skid. Their last loss was a heartbreaking 83-82 setback to Ginebra on Japeth Aguilar’s buzzer-beating three-point shot last Dec. 28.

Coach Gregorio’s Bolts are tied with San Mig Coffee at eighth with identical 3-7 slate, just a win ahead over cellar dweller Air 21, which is toting a 2-8 record.

In another development, Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and Petron sophomore June Mar Fajardo are tightly contesting the coveted “Best Player of the Conference” award.

The 6’10” Fajardo of Cebu is currently leading the BPC race with 43.5 statistical points in eight games with the Blaze Boosters. But not to be outdone, the 6’9” Aguilar is a close second with 41.2 SPs over 10 games. Both hot stars figure in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, and shot blocks.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 04, 2014.

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