Lastweek’s HIGHLIGHTS: 1 In the sixth game, San Miguel looks to eliminate Magnolia

Feb 23, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – We look at last week’s on the radar happenings.  Starting with this: San Miguel appears to be nearing the completion of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

Game Six of the PBA 48th Season Commissioner’s Cup takes place at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night, with SAN Miguel looking to win big against Magnolia.

Game Five on Sunday saw the Beermen defeat the Hotshots 108-98, putting them one step closer to winning their 29th championship in franchise history. After Chris McCullough led the Beermen to the Commissioner’s Cup championship in 2019, they are now vying for their first championship in an import conference.

Jericho Cruz ablaze

San Miguel’s triumph in Game 5 was largely attributed to Jericho Cruz, who finished with 30 points and eight three-pointers.

But with their backs against the wall right now, San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent is still leery of their rival.

Together, the Beermen made 16 three-pointers, with Simon Enciso adding five more. It seemed as though the team had found their shooting form.

Be cautious about Boatwright.

Despite only making one, Bennie Boatwright, who finished with 21 points and six rebounds, might be poised for a big night.

As we head into Game Six, the Hotshots are nothing new.

In the 2019 Philippine Cup semifinals, the Hotshots tied the series against Rain or Shine after falling behind 0-2 in the first two games. They then forced a Game Seven before winning the elimination round and moving on to the championship game.

In Game Five, Tyler Bey led the Hotshots with 34 points, eight rebounds, and three steals, but Magnolia greatly missed having team captain Mark Barroca, who finished with a mere four points on 2-of-7 performance from the field.

Barkley Ebona, a free agent, is expected to be included in TNT’s lineup.

In the lead-up to the PBA Philippine Cup, there are strong indications that journeyman forward Barkley Ebona is poised to join the ranks of the TNT Tropang Giga. The 27-year-old has been actively participating in practice sessions with the team as negotiations for his contract unfold.

Ebona’s journey to TNT commenced when Converge placed him on the unrestricted free agent with rights to salary (UFAWR2S) list before the current season kicked off. Following the expiration of his previous contract in December of the previous year, the Far Eastern University alumnus found himself without a contract extension. However, he entered the unrestricted free agency period, allowing his former team a 30-day grace period to present a new deal.

TNT’s interest in Ebona holds significance not only for the player but also due to the connection with Jojo Lastimosa, the team manager. Lastimosa served as the deputy coach at FEU when Ebona was a pivotal part of the squad. This shared history may play a role in Ebona’s decision to align himself with TNT.

As the negotiations progress and Ebona integrates into the Tropang Giga’s training regimen, basketball enthusiasts eagerly await the official announcement, anticipating the impact this seasoned forward may bring to the team during the upcoming Philippine Cup.

Meanwhile, Nambatac is traded to Blackwater by Rain or Shine in exchange for a first-round selection.

On the romantic occasion of Valentine’s Day, a different kind of exchange took place in the world of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as the Bossing and Rain or Shine reached an agreement. The deal involved the transfer of the rights to the former Letran star player, Rey Nambatac, to the Bossing in exchange for a first-round pick that Rain or Shine had acquired from TNT.

While the PBA Commissioner’s Office is in the process of reviewing the trade documents, the destination of the former Rain or Shine guard remains uncertain. Coach Yeng Guiao personally communicated the trade agreement to Nambatac, marking a pivotal moment in the player’s career.

TNT had expressed interest in Nambatac even before the Blackwater trade was announced. This interest is driven by TNT’s strategic need to fill the scoring vacuum left by Mikey Williams. As the basketball landscape undergoes these maneuvers, fans and analysts eagerly await the finalization of the trade and the impact it will have on the teams involved.

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