Standhardinger faces Fajardo, Beermen

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    TEAMS struggling to get their campaign really going intend to do just that today in what should be a pair of critical PBA Governors Cup matches at the Astrodome.

    Rain or Shine hopes to arrest its freefall when it collides with Blackwater in the opener, followed by the game pitting NorthPort against recent trading partner San Miguel Beer.

    The nightcap marks the first time Christian Standhardinger will play against Junemar Fajaro and the Beermen, who trade him to the Batang Pier for Mo Tautuaa last week.

    For NorthPort, the goal is really long-term as its goal is to ultimately make a run for a playoff spot. That would happen if it wins at least four of its remaining five games in the eliminations starting tonight.

    SMB is simply looking for a second straight win that would give it outright entry to the eight-team quarterfinals.

    Blackwater and Rain or Shine have the same sense of urgency as NorthPort.

    The Elite, currently running eighth, are looking to bounce back from yet another loss with coach Aris Dimaunahan hoping they would start notching those needed wins on a more regular basis.

    “Kailangan makabawi bukas. Di pwedeng back-to-back losses,” said Dimaunahan, whose team dropped a 97-106 decision to Meralco last Friday.

    “Ambisyon namin last game maka-back-to-back, di nagawa kaya subok ulit bukas,” added Dimaunahan. “Limang laro natitira, sana ma-umpisahan na bukas. Kasi dikit-dikit standings sa ilalim. Kailangan naming makaiwas du’n, lalo pa ngayon na pahirap na ng pahirap kalaban.’

    Rain or Shine is in more dire straits following an alarming freefall that left it lagging behind at 11th.

    The Elasto Painters have lost four straight, the last a 71-78 decision to previously unbeaten Alaska last Oct. 13. The former must now score a five-game sweep just to gain passage into the next round.

    “Must-win for us,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.

    “We just have to come out with more fire and focus on the defensive side,” added Garcia.

    “We need the locals to step up.”

    Indeed, the likes of Rey Nambatac, Javee Mocon, Beau Belga and Ed Daquioag, to name a few, should give new import Kwame Alexander all the help they could muster.

    Alexander, who suited up for NLEX in the 2015 edition of the season-ending tournament, arrived last week and had his first practice with his new team last Friday.

    “He has been okay. I think he has already adjusted to the weather and jet lag,” related Garcia. “Hopefully, he can give us the spark we are looking for.”
    Naturally, Alexander is chief among Dimaunahan’s concerns.

    “Malakas na import din,” noted Dimaunahan of Alexander, a legitimate threat at the post.

    “Hopefully, ma-limit namin siya bukas,” added Dimaunahan. “Malaking problema kasi kapag umi-score ng heavily ang import ng kabila.”