by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. — Alaska vs Meralco
6:45 p.m. — Phoenix Pulse vs Rain or Shine
Rain or Shine hopes to build on Friday’s massive win over defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel as it takes on shorthanded Phoenix Pulse in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Elasto Painters gun for their second straight win after a 0-2 start in the 6:45 p.m. match against a Fuel Masters squad that will once again miss the services of controversial star Calvin Abueva and coach Louie Alas.
Abueva is currently suspended indefinitely for a pair of misconducts last weekend while Alas serves the last of a two-game ban, thus leaving the responsibilities anew to lead assistant Topex Robinson.
Behind a career-high 30 points from Rey Nambatac and an all-around display by import Denzel Bowles, Rain or Shine beat Ginebra in stunning fashion with a 104-81 rout last Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bowles sees the result as a possible turnaround for Rain or Shine after starting the conference with a 91-84 loss to Meralco and a 98-92 setback to Blackwater.
“We’re hoping this propels us to a good conference,” said Bowles, who had 25 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
Phoenix, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from a 101-95 loss to Meralco that put them at 1-2 in the standings.
In order to bounce back, the Fuel Masters must get more from import Richard Howell after scoring eight points in his first game since filling-in for the injured Rob Dozier.
Meanwhile, Alaska and Meralco seek their fourth win in six games in the 4:30 p.m. opener.
The Aces are coming off a 104-81 victory over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok while the Bolts downed the Fuel Masters behind import Gani Lawal.
Lawal had 28 points and 26 rebounds against Phoenix while Meralco coach Norman Black give more significant playing time to center Raymond Almazan, who made his debut after recovering from an ankle injury.
Import Chris Daniels, Jeron Teng and Chris Banchero seek to produce big numbers for the Aces while Vic Manuel is also eyeing big minutes after seeing action for the first time due to an injured calf.