(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. — Phoenix vs Blackwater
8 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs Ginebra
DaJuan Summers aims to make a good lasting impression in what is expected to be his final game when Rain or Shine battles Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 8 p.m. with the Elasto Painters looking to break into the win column against a Ginebra side that is still adjusting to its new import.
In the first game, Phoenix Super LPG will try to gain the solo second spot when it collides with Blackwater at 4 p.m.
After failing to win in their first three matches, the Elasto Painters decided to issue Summers, a former National Basketball Association player, the pink slip after posting averages of 24.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Sources said the Elasto Painters had already reached a deal with their new reinforcement, who will be tasked to provide the rebounding, interior defense, experience and leadership that they lacked in their first three matches.
Aside from Summers’ dismal interior presence, the Elasto Painters also missed the services of 6-foot-8 Keith Datu and 6-foot-8 Luis Villegas.
Datu missed their last two matches after suffering calcium deposits in his knees while Villegas has yet to fully recovered from the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
Although the new import is already on board, he couldn’t make it in time for their Ginebra tussle, prompting Rain or Shine to roll with Summers for one last time.
But winning over the Kings will not be easy.
After suffering a painful 91-93 loss to Magnolia last Sunday, Ginebra is tipped to regain its killer’s instinct with new import, Tony Bishop, starting to adjust with the system of Tim Cone.
Also expected to draw attention is the battle between Phoenix and Blackwater.
In their previous game last Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, the Fuel Masters managed to survive a late Elasto Painters rally to book a 99-98 win and boost their confidence in the early stretch of the conference.
Phoenix import Johnathan Williams was superb as he flirted with a triple-double while Jason Perkins, Tyler Tio, Sean Manganti and Ken Truffin delivered to put the Fuel Masters at the bottom of the team standings with a 2-1 win-loss record.
Against the unpredictable Bossing, the Fuel Masters need to further display their balanced firepower.
Blackwater is looking to arrest an alarming skid after losing twice in a row following a winning start. Bossing coach Jeffrey Cariaso is expected to squeeze out the best out of his players, especially import Chris Ortiz, who was held to only 15 points in their 87-97 loss to Terrafirma last 15 November.
A veteran of the recent FIBA World Cup playing for Puerto Rico, much is expected on Ortiz, but Cariaso is looking more on the team’s development rather than individual production.
The first-year coach, however, hopes it could lead to victories and the team just needs to play consistent to get a good chance of pulling off a win.
“What’s important for us right now is that players are embracing new culture and the progress that we’ve been making every game,” Cariaso said.
“I like the resolve of the team in finding ways to win and I expect them to look for solutions when we play Phoenix.”