(at the Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 pm — Rain or Shine vs Alaska
6:45 pm — Magnolia vs TNT
Magnolia tries to shake rusts off after a long layoff when it takes on Talk ‘N Text tonight in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Action fires off at 7 p.m. with the Hotshots looking to start their All Filipino conference campaign on a high note after an impressive championship run in the season-ending conference Governors’ Cup late last year.
Before that, Rain or Shine seeks to continue its winning ways against Alaska — last conference’s runner up — in the appetizer at 4:30 pm.
Magnolia has not played an official game in a while, explaining head coach Chito Victolero’s concern about the effects of their long vacation on their game.
“It will be tough because this is our first outing in months. We’ll see,” he said.
Victolero also stressed that as a Philippine Cup finalist last season and a Governors’ Cup champion just recently, his team carries the pressure to deliver anew.
“It’s an even bigger challenge because we’re the runners up in this conference last season and we’re just coming off a championship. I know every team will challenge us. That’s the price of a championship” he added.
“All teams will prepare hard for us so we need to level up in everything — desire, preparation and effort.”
“We’re hopeful this conference. We have an intact core so we’re very positive about our chemistry,” he said. “The big picture, of course, is to win another championship but we will just take it one game at a time and for now that is TNT.”
Talk ‘N Text, on the other hand, looks to take advantage of Magnolia’s long layoff.
“Well, it’s another SMC team and another champion team. I think we just have to play with the confidence we had against San Miguel Beer,” T’NT coach Bong Ravena after his wards landed a massive 104-93 upset of SMB last week.
“I think we have an advantage because we’ve already played a number of games. The Hotshots may still be rusty. We have to grab that opportunity to get the momentum right away, Ravena said.”
Leading the charge for the KaTropa are Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Ryan Reyes, Don Trollano, Roger Pogoy, Kelly Williams and Brian Heruela against Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca, Rome De la Rosa, Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis and last conference’ Best Player of the Conference Paul Lee.
Meanwhile, NLEX and Meralco together with Columbian and Ginebra are currently playing at press time in a rare PBA Saturday double header at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.