7 p.m. -- Phoenix vs. Meralco
WIN or go home.
Phoenix, the surprise second placer in the elimination round, and Meralco, the No. 7 seed, clash anew in a sudden match tonight in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The lone do-or-die encounter is set at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to a best-of-five semifinal showdown against No. 3 seed Alaska Milk.
Alaska defeated San Miguel Beer, 96-85, in their own quarterfinal match last Wednesday to safely make it to the semis.
Like Alaska, Phoenix also enjoys a twice-to-beat advantage over Meralco by virtue of their strong showing in the elimination stage.
But the Fuel Masters failed to get the job done, losing 74-90 to the suddenly-hot Bolts.
It will be winner-take all Friday.
“We are expecting to see a very aggressive Phoenix team Friday as it is winner-take-all,” said Black, whose team is now on a five-game winning streak.
“We must rebound better and match and surpass their energy level to come out on top,” added Black, whose Bolts played -- and lost -- during the 2016 and 2017 finals, both against Barangay Ginebra.
A big plus for Meralco is veteran Jared Dillinger, who is expected to play more minutes in his second game back from injury.
Dillinger played seven minutes in his return to help the Bolts beat the Fuel Masters and force a knockout match for the semis seat.
The 10-year veteran was out for most of the elimination because of a quad injury.
Despite his limited playing time, Dillinger managed to make his presence against the Fuel Masters.
“Now that I have seen that he can play, he will play more,” said Black, while noting Dillinger’s defensive effort on Phoenix top gun Calvin Abueva.
Top seed Barangay and Magnolia, which both hold the luxury of winning only once — have both finished off their respective rivals to set up a semifinal showdown.
The Gin Kings demolished Talk N Text, 112-93, while Hotshots subdued Blackwater, 97-91, at the start of the quarterfinal wars last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Fil-German rookie Christian Standhardinger of San Miguel Beer emerged as the runaway leader in the statistical race for the “Best Player of the Conference” award in the season-ending oturnamnet.
The 6-8 Standhardinger led all local players in scoring and rebounding.
He was also the lone player to put in double-double averages for a whopping average of 43.1 statistical points per outing.
The bull-strong center/forward had 23.3 points and 13.6 rebounds a game and also added norms of 1.6 assists, 0.9 steal and 0.6 block in a solid stint with the Beermen.
The only problem for Standhardinger was the sixth-place finish by the Beermen in the prelims.
They needed to win two in a row versus the Alaska Milk Aces to make the best-of-five semifinals.