By Jonas Terrado

Defending five-time PBA Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer and three others will take part in a pocket tournament which starts Monday at the Upper Deck Sports Center in Ortigas.

June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer is defended by Justin Chua of Phoenix Pulse (PBA Images)

June Mar Fajardo’s absence will play a big factor in how San Miguel Beer iron out kinks before the start of the PBA campaign when it plays in a four-team preseason tilt next week. (PBA Images)

Joining the Beermen are the NLEX Road Warriors, Alaska Aces and the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters as they hope to make most of the mini-tourney that will serve as part of their preparations for season-opening conference which starts March 8.

Teams were given an extended preparation time after the league rescheduled the opener from March 1 as part of preventive measures against the novel coronavirus outbreak.

SMB battles Phoenix in Monday’s opener at 10 a.m. before Alaska faces NLEX at 12 noon.

Phoenix meets Alaska at 10 a.m. on Feb. 19 followed by San Miguel opposite NLEX at 12 noon while games on Feb. 21 pit Phoenix taking on NLEX at 10 a.m. and San Miguel colliding with Alaska at 12 noon.

SMB will use the mini-tourney to figure out ways to play sans reigning five-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, who will miss at least the whole duration of the Philippine Cup due to a fractured right tibia.

Fajardo’s absence leaves the Beermen without the most important player and a major inside presence.

Phoenix, NLEX and Alaska, on the other hand, have been busy with their own preparations, even facing university teams from South Korea in tune-up matches recently.

Source: Manila Bulletin