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Beermen, Warriors eye No. 2

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 27, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Titleholder San Miguel Beer and NLEX go for a second straight win and a share of the lead as they take on debuting teams Meralco and Barako Bull, respectively, in the continuation of the 2015-16 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.

The Beermen and the Bolts clash in the 7 p.m. mainer after the 4:15 p.m. showdown between the Road Warriors and the Energy Cola.

The Road Warriors started their season with a scrambling 90-86 win over the Blackwater Elite Friday while the Beermen opened their title defense with a dominant 97-86 victory over the Globalport Batang Pier Saturday in Davao City.

Victories by San Miguel and NLEX will tie them with idle Rain or Shine in the early lead.

The SMB-Meralco match is the day’s main showcase with the Beermen taking the challenge of the Bolts with their overhauled lineup.

The Bolts play their first game with the returning Jimmy Alapag and Rabeh Al-Hussaini, free-agent acquisitions Bryan Faundo and Ronjay Buenafe and rookie draftee Chris Newsome.

The five are expected to complement well with key holdovers in Gary David, Cliff Hodge, Jared Dillinger, Rey Hugnatan, Rey Guevarra and John Ferriols and Kelly Nabong.

“We are complete and relatively healthy except for the absence of (rookie draftee) Baser Amer who is still with San Beda (in the NCAA),” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

“We are ready to get going even though we know it will be tough versus the defending champs,” Black also said. “Solid team defense will be the key because San Miguel is loaded with weapons and you cannot just concentrate on one person.”

The Beermen underscored their strength in their 11-point conquest of the Batang Pier marked by Fajardo’s bullish game with 21 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.

Al-Hussaini has a job cut out for him in his PBA comeback after being away for quite sometime, attending personal matter in the homeland of his recently departed father in the Middle East.

Likely to take his turn to defend against Fajardo are Faundo and Nabong.

The Meralco backcourt is likely to become more stable on the entry of Alapag.

Newsome, meanwhile, could provide some firepower and defensive muscle in the wings.

Meralco is 1-9 against San Miguel Beer in head-on matches in the all-Filipino conference.

ACIRC BASER AMER BATANG PIER BEERMEN BEERMEN AND THE BOLTS BLACKWATER ELITE FRIDAY BRYAN FAUNDO AND RONJAY BUENAFE CHRIS NEWSOME CLIFF HODGE MERALCO SAN MIGUEL
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