by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Meralco vs Phoenix Pulse
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Ginebra
Phoenix Pulse tries to focus on improving its chances in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup without star cager Calvin Abueva and coach Louie Alas when it battles Meralco at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Fuel Masters take on the Bolts at 4:30 p.m. with Abueva out after being handed an indefinite suspension and a total fine of P70,000 by the PBA Commissioner’s Office for his controversial actions in the team’s last two games.
As part of his punishment, Abueva is barred from even watching the games as a spectator.
Also out is Alas, who will serve the first of his two-game ban for shoving TNT KaTropa’s David Semerad during an altercation and criticizing league officials after Sunday’s 114-88 loss at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Their absence coincides with the arrival of former TNT import Richard Howell, who will fill-in for the injured Rob Dozier.
Howell last played in 2014 when he almost led TNT to the Commissioner’s Cup crown but lost to San Mig Super Coffee (now Magnolia) in the finals.
Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins are expected to fill the void left by Abueva, whose energy will be sorely missed by the Fuel Masters.