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HOOPS

Kings hot on playoff bonus

Games Friday

(Philsports Arena)

3 p.m. — Blackwater vs Rain or Shine

5:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs NLEX

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is looking to stay on track for a possible playoff bonus while three others teams fight for survival in a pair of crucial matches in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Philsports Arena.

The Kings need to win their remaining three games, including their 5:45 p.m. encounter against NLEX, to keep their bid for a twice-to-beat advantage alive in this import-laced tournament.

A five-game losing binge is now staring on the faces of the Road Warriors, whose only chance of making it to the next round is to win their last two games — and hope for an answer to their prayers.

The Road Warriors’ chances will not only depend on winning their last two outings but will likewise rely on the fate of other teams similarly vying for spots for quarterfinal berths.

An interesting backdrop in the Ginebra-NLEX encounter is the meeting between Ginebra coach Tim Cone and his counterpart in Road Warriors tactician Frankie Lim.

Lim coached Ginebra, the league’s most popular team, for a conference before the American mentor took over in the latter stretch of the 2015 season.

Cone, the winningest coach in league history, also used to mentor Lim, who served as team captain when they won their first championship together at Alaska in the 1991 Third Conference.

They have gone different paths two years later but in 1994, Lim, who was then the starting point guard of Purefoods, went on to beat Cone and the Milkmen in a best-of-seven championship series.

A lot of things have changed since then and Lim will definitely have his hands full matching the coaching skills and wits of his former mentor, who blossomed into the league’s most successful coach with 24 PBA titles and the only bench tactician to win a pair of grand slams.

Recently, Cone added another feather in his cap when he became the only coach in PBA history to win more than 1,000 games.

But now, he is determined to add Lim and the Road Warriors to his growing list of victims, especially with the tournament entering the final stretch.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine and Blackwater, two teams in dire need of a victory, collide at 3 p.m.

Like the Road Warriors, the Bossing had also experienced five straight defeats, putting them on the brink of yet another early elimination.

The Elasto Painters, on the other hand, came close to becoming the first team to defeat the previously hottest team in the tournament, Converge, but they squandered a 17-point lead and allowed the FiberXers to pull the rug from under in the endgame.

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