‘Must’ for the Bolts

Willie Marcial and Vincent Ling
UnionPay, a global payment brand, announced on Wednesday it has entered into a one-year partnership with Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as the official payment partner of Asia’s first play for pay league. After the contract signing, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial (right) and Vincent Ling, Union Pay deputy general manager in Southeast Asia, sealed the deal with a handshake.

NORTHPORT wraps up its elimination campaign today without much pressure, taking on a Meralco team fighting for dear life while Phoenix seeks to rev up its own playoff bid against ousted NLEX in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

In other words, it does not matter for the Batang Pier whether they win or lose in the 7 p.m. encounter with the Bolts, having secured a top two seeding as early as seven days ago.

That was last July 3 when the Batang Pier survived the Columbian Dyip in a 110-108 win, which was, in the words of coach Pido Jarencio “one step towards twice-to-beat.’

Jarencio seemed reluctant then to speak about the possibility of getting a twice-to-beat advantage, knowing full well there was one more team in Magnolia that’s still capable of tying his Batang Pier.

"Mayroon pa kaming last game against Meralco. Tingnan natin kung ano pa mangyayari sa ibang teams, kung saan kami babagsak. Basta ito one step para sa twice-to-beat," said Jarencio.

That win over the Dyip – their 8th in 10 outings – turned out to be the key already to their goal, because the Hotshots, who were then the hottest team riding on five straight wins, suddenly hit a snag.

The Hotshots’ slide went unabated till last Wednesday when they absorbed their third straight loss at the hands of Rain or Shine, 86-82, as a result of which the Batang Pier automatically ended at top two.

However, Jarencio made it clear they will still prepare for the Bolts like a regular game, hence the latter need to give their best in their bid to stay alive in the race for the 7th and 8th spots in the quarterfinal round.

The Bolts are near the bottom at 3-6. If they corner their last two outings, the possibility of making the next round remains, although it depends already on how the other teams in the lower ranks – Rain or Shine, Magnolia, San Miguel Beer, and Alaska -- will fare in the last four playing dates.

Phoenix, which suffered a crucial loss to the Beermen last Wednesday, 128-108, go for a rebound as it takes on the Road Warriors in the first game at 4:30 p.m.

The Fuel Masters are sporting a 4-6 record and a victory today will enable them to remain at 8th spot.