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PBA: Phoenix in must-win

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By Jonas Terrado

Games Friday (Cuneta Astrodome)
4:30 p.m. — Phoenix Pulse vs NLEX
7 p.m. — Meralco vs NorthPort

Phoenix Pulse tries to stay in contention for a quarterfinals berth when it battles NLEX in its final elimination round assignment in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The Fuel Masters take on the Road Warriors in 4:30 p.m. as they hope to end the elims on a winning note after back-to-back losses to the Columbian Dyip and San Miguel Beermen.

NorthPort aims to remain in the hunt for the top seed in the playoffs against Meralco in the second game at 7 p.m.

Phoenix fell in a tie for eighth place with Alaska at 4-6 after being manhandled by San Miguel, 128-108, last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The loss came after the Fuel Masters saw their two-game winning streak snapped by the Dyip, 100-98, last July 6 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

But Phoenix could play without import Richard Howell, who injured his left knee in the third quarter against SMB.

Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins are looking to play key roles opposite an NLEX side seeking to end its dismal campaign with a win.

The Road Warriors sit at the bottom of the table with a 2-8 record but are determined to use the match to gain some confidence heading into the Governors’ Cup in September.

Import Olu Ashaolu, who will also reinforce the team in the season-ending tournament, has posted 28.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists since replacing Tony Mitchell.

Meanwhile, NorthPort is also aiming to finish the elims with a franchise-best 9-2 mark in its match against Meralco.

The Batang Pier could see the return of Sean Anthony after missing their 110-108 win over the Dyip last July 3.

Meralco is desperate to remain in the playoff race with a 3-6 record.

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