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Magnolia faces Rain or Shine in important preliminaries-closing  duel

Games Friday(PhilSports Arena)3 p.m. – San Miguel vs Meralco5:45 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Magnolia

The picture in today’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup preliminaries-closing duel with Magnolia is clearly painted for Rain or Shine.

Win this game and head straight into the quarterfinals.

Lose and go down to a sudden death for the eighth and last ticket against NLEX.

For sure, the Elasto Painters (5-6) are intent on pouncing on this opportunity in the 5:45 p.m. tiff at the PhilSports Arena to advance without hassle now rather than take their chances later in a 50-50 dispute with the Road Warriors (5-7).

Quarterfinals-assured Magnolia (9-2) has a big stake in this game, too.

A win secures the Hotshots second seed behind Bay Area (10-2) and the coveted twice-to-beat advantage against the seventh-ranked squad.

On the other hand, a defeat sends Magnolia down to No. 3 at 9-3 in a best-of-three showdown with the No. 6 while gifting its elims conqueror Ginebra (9-3) with No. 2 and the win-once bonus.

“Our destiny is in our hands. We handle our business against Rain or Shine, then we’ll be blessed with twice-to-beat,” said assistant coach Jason Webb.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer (6-5) and Meralco (4-7) clash at 3 p.m. in an encounter with little consequence on their respective playoffs standings.

Win or lose, the Beermen, with Terrence Romeo returning from a long bout with injury, are assured of fifth spot and a race-to-two duel with No. 4 Converge (8-4).

The Bolts, who suffered a fatal 92-81 loss to NLEX last Wednesday, have no more chance of finishing higher than 10th due to inferior quotient in case of a tie at 5-7 with the Road Warriors and ROS.

Giving Guiao added confidence is the improved game of replacement import Ryan Pearson, who had 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in ROS’ 116-97 disposal of Blackwater last Friday.

Then there’s Rey Nambatac, who is getting his old form back as shown in his 21-point outing versus the Bossing. — Olmin Leyba

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