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Race to semis on today

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Race to semis on today
San Miguel import Cameron Clark takes a shot versus NLEX Road Warriors Sean Anthony and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser during their matchup in the elims where the Beermen emerged as the second best team with a 9-2 win-loss record.
STAR / File

Beermen, Kings go for express lane

MANILA, Philippines —Twice-to-beat squads San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra go for the express lane to the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals as they quickly shift from Friday’s eliminations windup to today’s quarterfinals kickoff.

The No. 2 Beermen, the reigning Philippine Cup kingpins, seek to make quick work of  No. 7 Converge and its debuting import Tom Vodanovich in the 4:30 p.m. opener at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The third-seeded Gin Kings, rulers of the last Commissioner’s Cup, target the same objective versus No. 6 NLEX in the main game at 6:45 p.m.

SMB and Ginebra hit the floor two nights after wrapping up their respective preliminaries slates in contrasting fashions. The Beermen clobbered Rain or Shine, 129-116, to assure themselves of a Top 2 seeding whereas the defending champions squandered a 14-point lead and a shot at No. 1 in a 114-105 setback to eventual top seed TNT.

With June Mar Fajardo sidelined by MCL injury, SMB frontliners led by Vic Manuel, Mo Tautuaa and Rodney Brondial carry a heavier burden as do import Cam Clark and backcourt guys CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter and Jericho Cruz.

“Kailangan namin mag-tulong-tulong especially ngayong wala si June Mar,” said Manuel.

Beermen coach Jorge Gallent emphasized the need to crank it up defensively against the FiberXers led by Maverick Ahanmisi, Jeron Teng, Justin Arana and Alec Stockton, who dealt SMB a 107-103 loss in their elims duel. Converge presents a different look in this matchup with Vodanovich, a New Zealand national team mainstay who fired 20 in the Tall Blacks’ 88-63 rout of Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers last year, taking over import duties from the high-scoring Jamaal Franklin.

“We have to play good defense. If we rely on our offense, we won’t make it far in the playoffs,” said Gallent.

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