MANILA, Philippines – At 4:30 p.m., Magnolia and Meralco, two teams with similarly ambitious aims, square off in an attempt to hit each other’s mark. at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Hotshots are trying to win their 10th game in a row, which would significantly increase their chances of passing top-ranked Bay Area and securing the last twice-to-beat advantage in the eight-team quarterfinals.
Magnolia would be guaranteed that coveted spot with one more victory over Rain or Shine on Friday.
On the other hand, the Bolts aim to increase their winning streak to four, move up to 5 to 5, and maintain their chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Meralco plays NLEX next on Wednesday, followed by San Miguel Beer two days later, to finish the elimination rounds after Magnolia.
More victories in those last games would guarantee the Bolts a spot in the quarterfinals and even a best-of-three showdown in the following round.
The top two teams after the 12-game eliminations would be guaranteed of a win-once advantage over the Nos. 7 and 8, respectively, while the teams in positions third through sixth would compete in race-to-two matches that would face No. 3
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said, “Very crucial game, lalo na ngayon because we have a chance to achieve that No. 2,” after his team’s route to second was made possible by former challenger Barangay Ginebra’s loss to NLEX last Friday, which reduced the Gin Kings to 7 to 3.
Victolero continued, “Additional motivation for me is that now, at least, there is a possibility for me and I have a better chance of succeeding, as opposed to before, when we were down, we didn’t have any kasiguraduhan.”
Since defeating TNT 97 to 91 on November 16 last year, Meralco has had plenty of time to recover. Similar holds true for Magnolia, who’s own three-game winning streak was snapped last November 19 when it fell to Bay Area 89 to 95.
Victolero said that the work at hand should be challenging enough: “Nagamit namin iyung pahinga [we used our rest], hindi naman para makapaghanda kundi para na rin ma-condition namin sarili namin para sa playoffs [not just to make be ready but also to conditions ourselves for the playoffs].”
Victolero said, “I think it would be more defensive. They are also playing well.
“I think it will come down to defensive intensity and execution on both ends of the field. Ang laban diyan [the fight would be], possession by possession. Lagi naming ganyan kapag kami naglaban. [it’s always like that every time we play the game].”