Hotshots wary of dangerous Bossing

MARK Barroca’s leadership will be tested when Magnolia battles Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup.
MARK Barroca’s leadership will be tested when Magnolia battles Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup.PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA

Games today:

(Ninoy Aquino Stadium)

4:30 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs NorthPort

7:30 p.m. — Magnolia vs Blackwater

Resurging Magnolia is not taking any chances against skidding Blackwater when they square off in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup today at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Riding the crest of back-to-back wins that boosted their playoffs chances, the Hotshots have the momentum over the Bossing, who are struggling with a four-game slide.

But taking down a team desperate to arrest an alarming slump is easier said than done.

Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero expects a tough battle in their 7:30 p.m. clash, knowing that the dangerous Bossing are capable of springing surprises.    

“The PBA right now is unpredictable. Even if you’re the No.1 team or an elite team if you’re not prepared you’ll have a hard time winning,” he said.

“That’s what we instill in our players, the proper mindset to compete in every single practice which they will bring in every game. So that we can give our best effort.”

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine tries to extend its winning run to five in a face-off with NorthPort, which seeks to end its back-to-back losses, in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser.  

The Hotshots mentor doesn’t want to see a repeat of their catchup 107-93 win over Phoenix last Sunday.

Magnolia saw its 12-point lead in the second quarter turn into an 11-point deficit before halftime where the defense-oriented squad allowed the Fuel Masters to score 39 points in the second quarter — the most points in a period given up by the team in the last six conferences.

“If you start to relax now your opponent will kill you. You can’t relax,” Victolero said.

The Hotshots are in fourth place with a 3-2 win-loss record just a hairline ahead of teams bunched in the tight middle pack.

Big man Ian Sangalang has been producing consistent numbers with 19.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per outing for Magnolia, which will also rely on Mark Barroca, who had a career-best-tying 27 points last game, Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva.

Blackwater, on the other hand, suddenly found itself reeling after starting its campaign with three straight wins.

The Bossing suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 86-105, last Friday to fall out of the Top 8 with a 3-4 slate tied with Meralco.

The Elasto Painters, meanwhile, are red-hot after posting four straight wins for a 4-4 card in the seventh spot.

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